501 Shelter, Penn., AT NOBO mile 1186.6, Sunday April 27, 2014 — This morning we were looking at an impressive pile of abandoned equipment we found at the shelter when we arrived last night.
None of it was hiker grade, but all the essentials were there in terms of clothing, wicked knife, now saw, bear line, pots, pans and even tooth paste.
“Wonder why this guy abandoned his stuff,” I mused.
“He was trail toast ” shot back one of the lady section hikers from Illinois.
If that’s so, there’s a lot of crumbs out here on the trail.
This is not the first abandoned equipment I’ve seen.
At various places I’ve found almost every kind of equipment imaginable from cast iron skillets to tents and backpacks. There’s been enough clothing to stock a huge consignment store.
Why is all this detritus scattered willy nilly?
How many stars are there in the sky? It’s complicated.
A funny place to start is Bill Bryson’s book, “A Walk in the Woods.”
Katz, Bryson’s foil, fool and neophyte acts out every stereotypical AT scenario from overpacking to throwing away his gear when he realizes that heavy equals hard. That’s a good part of the answer.
“A Walk in the Woods” is a movie currently in production starring Robert Redford as Bryson and Nick Nolte as Katz. Don’t miss it.
There are mentally ill folks out here too. They talk to themselves, claim to hear voices and all the rest. Then there are the druggies…
Mind you, these are distinct minorities, but they are here and have been known to abandon clothing and equipment helter skelter.
Hunters occasionally use shelters as places to store cooking gear so heavy that they know hikers won’t trundle off with it, so we’re dealing with all kinds.
When you meet someone on the trail, it’s fairly easy to size them up. If their story, gear, body weight and general appearance don’t add up, then it’s time to move on. That’s where the absence of a beard discounted my credibility a bit.
Today’s shelter is a huge room with bunks and chairs around the perimeter. It features a door and giant hexagonal skylight. You can order pizza. Is there more to life? Not out here!
The walking today was very pleasant. Southern PA truly is a hikers joy. However the rock puddles are becoming larger and more frequent.
Within a couple of days I’ll be hiking hell on earth, I am told by nearly everyone I meet.
Some of the trail photos illustrate a few of today’s selected delights.