Crossing the Mason-Dixon

Me, Bernie, Nick at High Rock, MD

Me, Bernie, Nick at High Rock, MD

Last Sunday I was joined on the trail by friends and former housemates Bernie and Nick. They picked a great day to hike with me both for the weather and the scenery. Together we hiked the last few miles of Maryland and crossed the Mason-Dixon line into Pennsylvania. We took in views from High Rock, the highest point in Maryland, and clamored our way through some treacherous boulder fields – a preview of what I expect to see in northern PA. By far the highlight of our day together was Penn-Mar park. We were walking together in the woods when all of sudden we hear big/band swing music. As we made our way through the forest opening, we stumbled into a park fillled with senior citizens dancing the afternoon away to a 12-piece band. It was quite a sight, one I certainly was not expecting.

Penn-Mar Park

Penn-Mar Park

We were tempted to break out our superior dance skills and try to pick up a few new lady friends under the dance pavilion, but I think we were more concerned with our lunch and the ice cream stand. Besides, we had plenty of fun conversing with all the folks at the picnic tables about the A.T. and hearing unique send-off’s like “tally-ho young man!”

After the senior citizen mecca at Penn-Mar park, we made our way into Pennslyvania and eventually Bernie’s car. We wrapped up the afternoon with a trip to the local pub in Waynesboro, PA where Nascar and the local Pool tournemant were the talk of the day. Thanks for coming out Nick and Bernie!



The next highlight of my week was arriving at Pine Grove Furnace State Park in PA, which marks the official halfway point of the A.T. To celebrate this milestone, the tradition is for hikers to take the ‘half-gallon challenge.’ The goal is to finish a half-gallon of PA’s own Hersery ice cream in one sitting. Stuff-Sack (another thru-hiker) and I arrived around 3 P.M. and decided to undertake this challenge together. After carefully reviewing the multiple flavors available, I decided on plain chocolate as it had the least amount of calories and sugar compared to flavors like ‘cherry swirl’ and ‘moose tracks’.



I was slightly dreading this challenge so I had to make it as easy as possible on my stomach. As you can see from the pictures, I completed the challenge. It took me 45 minutes. Much like the morning after a night of heavy drinking, I’ve temporarly sworn off any and all ice cream.

Underground Railroad

Underground Railroad

Also in Pine Grove Furnace State Park, I stayed at the Iron Mansion hostel, a building that used to house runaway slaves during the underground railroad. A stay at the hostel comes complete with a tour of how the runaway slaves were hidden in the house and we all got to climb into the ‘secret basement’ room where the slaves stayed. According to the caretaker of the hostel, slaves would stay for only one or two days and travel by night. Their ultimate goal was not just the northern U.S., but actually Canada, where they were protected from bounty hunters who were trying to extradite them back to their owners in the South.

All-in-all it’s been a great week. I’ve met a lot of new hikers since my D.C. break and there are currently eight of us holding up at the Doyle Hotel in Duncannon, PA. This place is a legend among thru-hikers because of it’s small-town pub charm and cheap beer. We also have live music to look forward to tonight!

Cumberland Valley, PA

Cumberland Valley, PA


9 Responses to Crossing the Mason-Dixon

  1. Christy says:

    Nice update!! I am loving the new blog style with more than one photo….. TALLY HO!

  2. tim says:

    a-ha… first to comment again. i am making up for my neglect on the first half of your trail my man. sorry i couldnt lend you any skills on that ice cream eating contest. as i have some mild IBS i feel that contest would of made my trail journey miserable but glad to see u r trekking hard.

  3. tim says:


  4. Mom says:

    Wow – what a park – big band and all! Glad you survived the ice cream challenge! Glad you have a new hiker “family”. I, too, love the pics. Thanks for keeping us all updated!

  5. Jeff & Lois says:

    Hey Preston,
    More surprises…I would never have expected that kind of “wildlife” on the trail. Love the photos!! Keep the news coming…we look forward to each new message. Stay safe!!

  6. Stephanie Harris says:

    Hi Preston –

    I’ve been reading your blog and this is the first time I felt inclined to write. Even though that is a lot of ice cream, I feel like in my pregnant state I would be able to take on that as well! Maybe I should try and find Hershey’s ice cream here in Charlotte! :) Keep writing and good luck with PA hiking.

  7. Patty Harms says:

    Sounds like you’re having an amazing time. Great stories!

  8. Parker says:

    It’s funny Preston, but my first thought when I saw the “Before” ice cream picture was “Man, what a weak challenge”. Then I realized who was eating it and what a sweet a tooth you have. If you can barely beast it then I sure can’t pretend to do better!

    PS – If you’re looking for advice on your beard, I cast a strong vote for Handlebars!

  9. tim says:

    how are u doing with all this rain?

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