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