Mike C's May, 2015 M-DT Trail Journal

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My name is Mike Calabrese and I maintain this web site. The following are my trip logs and pictures from my recent hike of the Mason-Dixon Trail. It started out to be a thru hike but it eventually became a week long section hike.

Day 0, Saturday, May 9, 2015- I'm making final preparations, checking and rechecking my pack. Tomorrow is the day that I begin my attempt to thru- hike the 200 mile Mason-Dixon trail. All the preparations are done. It's up to me to have the physical and mental stamina to pull this off. Tomorrow, the adventure begins! -MBC

Western Terminous of the M-DT
Western Terminous of the M-DT
Me at Franklin Township Park, PA
Me at Franklin Township Park, PA
Franklin Township Park, PA
Franklin Township Park, PA

Day 1, Sunday, May 10, 2015- Julie drove me up to Whiskey Springs, PA this morning and I was on the trail by 9:20 AM. It was all road walking today. The weather was overcast and the temps a were between 68 and 84. I did 5.7 miles by 11:30 and took a break at Franklin Township Park, where I ate, rested, used the restroom and got some water. Got to US15 and 6.3 miles at 12:30, then hiked 3 miles north to the Rodeway Inn where I arrived at around 1:45. Took a shower and am resting right now. This was a good first day. -MBC

Farm fields along PA74
Farm fields along PA74
Blaze at Cabin Hollow RD and PA74
Blaze at Cabin Hollow RD and PA74
Mount Zion UMC, PA
Mount Zion UMC, PA

Day 2, Monday, May 11, 2015- The second day of a long distance hike is always the worst. I was feeling bad from yesterday aches and pains wise. And I had the option of doing about 18 miles as a 'purist', 15 miles if I met the M-DT diagonally or 9.3 miles if I took the shortest route. I took the shortest route. I met the M-DT at PA74 and Cabin Hollow Road. I hiked to Mount Zion Road and took a break at the church. I had two blisters on my right toe and the temps were soaring close to 90. So I plotted the most direct route to the Chow Down Restaurant and had lunch in splended air conditioning. Staying at Gifford Pinchot State Park tonight. Tomorrow I plan to start by first light and make it to I83. Where I spend the night is still up in the air. -MBC

Pinchot SP Camp Site 153
Pinchot SP Camp Site 153
Trails are now numbered at Pinchot SP
Trails are now numbered at Pinchot SP
Boat Launch at Pinchot SP, PA
Boat Launch at Pinchot SP, PA

Day 3, May 12, 2015- Today was a tough one. I left my campsite at 7:30AM. I took me 2 hours to get out of Pinchot State Park. I did 12.5 miles, 4 in Pinchot and 8 along roads. I made it to I83 and then could not find a place to stay. So I called Jim Hooper, president of the M-DTS. He came and got me and I am camping on his farm tonight. -MBC

Day 4, May 13, 2015- Today I 'slack packed' 7 miles of the trail between I83 and Wago RD. Very nice weather today. I took Jim and Joyce to dinner last night. Cold night but I slept well in my tent. -MBC

Along Rooster RD and Map 2, PA
Along Rooster RD and Map 2, PA
Little Conewago Creek, PA
Little Conewago Creek, PA
Lunch Break at Apollo PArk Shelter, PA
Lunch Break at Apollo Park Shelter, PA

Day 5, May 14 2015- Today I helped work on the construction of the new Apollo Park shelter in PA. We got the 3 walls up. I will be the first person to sleep in it. Tomorrow it's 8 miles and Otter Creek campground is the destination. -MBC

Day 6, May 15, 2015- Did about 7 miles and am camping at Otter Creek Campground. This was the first day that I hiked on trail and not roads. I enjoyed it! They are calling for 4 days of rain starting tomorrow so I have some strategic decisions to make. Stay tuned... -MBC

Sign at Shenks Ferry RD, Map 4, PA
Sign at Shenks Ferry RD, Map 4, PA
Rock formation near Otter Creek, PA
Rock formation near Otter Creek, PA
3 blazes- This MUST be the right way!
3 blazes- This MUST be the right way!

Day 7, May 16, 2015- Today I did 10.1 tough miles. I had a number of issues with trail conditions. Caught some stinging nettle climbing out of Sawmill Run which hurt the rest of the day. The heat was a factor on the road walking portion of this stretch as well as when climbing out of state gamelands 181 or Oakland Run. Met a turkey hunter on the trail today. He thanked me for wearing blaze orange. I heard 2 others but could not see them. Once I hit the yellow trail I could feel the cool breezes coming off of the Susquehanna. Could not find the Scout shelter near lock 12. I stumbled upon it while hiking this area in 1996 but could not find it today. It was threatening to rain so I pitched my tent in the picnic area next to Lock 12. I had a chance to put up the tent, get some water and eat dinner. First it started raining lightly. Then it dumped. There was major thunder and lightning. I was first worried about the lightning. Then I heard the siren from Holtwood Dam signalling that they were going to release water over the dam. I started worrying that I camped too close to the river. I spent 15 hours in my tent, which stayed dry. It rained all evening and most of the night. I couldn't sleep because: 1) That dam siren would go off every few hours and I worried that I would get swept up by flood waters; 2) My NOAA weather radio kept saying over and over that the weather would be the same the next 3 days; 3) I kept hearing the clop, clop, clop of the Mennonite/Amish wagons going over the PA372 bridge late into Saturday evening and then early Sunday morning. Not a happy camper right now.

Urey Overlook, PA (North View)
Urey Overlook, PA (North View)
Urey Overlook, PA (South View)
Urey Overlook, PA (South View)
Why are they staring at me?
Why are they staring at me?

Day 8, Sunday, May 17, 2015- Amazingly, it stopped raining early Sunday morning. I had time to filter some water from a close by stream, eat breakfast and get packed up. I did not feel like hiking today. My feet hurt, my lower back hurt, I was tired from lack of sleep and just felt lousy. I tried to call Julie to come and get me but the cell phone did not have a signal (though I talked to her last night from the same location). So I started hiking. I had to take the high water route up River/Slab RDS since the water was high. It started raining again. It was a light rain so I actually did not mind it. It was refreshing. I did not want to put up with rain for the next 3 days. While ascending Slab RD I saw a cell tower in the distance. So I called Julie and asked her to come and get me at the intersection of PA74 and McKinley RD. Thankfully, she said that she would. I knew it would take her at least 3 hours to get here. A lady invited me in for a cup of coffee at the intersection of Slab and McKinley. Normally, I would have said yes. But I did not feel like socializing so I thanked her but declined. It took me an hour to get to PA74. I then waited 2 hours for my ride. During that time at least 6 people stopped to ask if I was OK or if I needed a ride. I must have looked like I was in bad shape! It was very nice of them to inquire about me. I thanked them but said that I had a ride coming. So Julie showed up just past 1:00, she took me home and the hike was over. -MBC

Whats wrong with this picture?j
Whats wrong with this picture?

Epilogue- Then again it may not be over. I may go up a day or two next week and do some day hiking or camping. Here are some lessons learned: I am a lot older and this long distance hiking thing is probably for those that are younger. I had the equipment and the experience. I just no longer have the stamina. The M-DT is a very nice long distance trail. It does have it's drawbacks like too much road walking and some trail condition issues. But it also has some great hiking experiences for the day hiker, weekend hiker, section hiker or the thru-hiker. I experienced some very nice scenery as well as some very nice people that I interacted with while on the trail. These 2 factors made it worth it.

As far as the trail conditions go the M-DTS needs help. It takes more than 6-10 people, the majority being over 60, to maintain this trail and keep it open. Please consider helping the Mason-Dixon Trail System. -MBC

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