Three nights ago I awoke around 5:30 AM to the sound of rolling thunder. I couldn’t see any light flashes from under my tarp, but I could tell from the wind and the sound of the thunder that a storm was moving in fast. What is the old adage? The time between the thunder and the lightning is how close the storm is? Well let’s just say about thirty minutes later the prominent sound was BOOM-POW! Thunder instantly followed by lightning cracks. I could feel the earth shaking from each hit! This was by far the most scary experience I’ve had on the trail and the first time I legitimately was concerned for my safety.
I’m sitting there in the middle of the woods, riding out an insanely powerful thunderstorm, huddling under a tarp which was suspended by my metal trekking poles. Fortunately they are rubber tipped on both ends, were grounded, and I wasn’t touching them.
The torrential downpour of rain that accompanied all this lightning added to my worries as a huge puddle of water began creeping under my tarp. On a humorous note (though certain people I know would probably freak at this), five large toads hopped out of the rain and onto my sleeping bag. I kicked them off but they still stayed under the tarp and just gave me a relaxed look reminiscant of the Budweiser toads as if they wanted to tell me “thanks for the shelter dude, it’s wicked out there!”
Fortunately I had chosen to sleep on the side of my tarp where the huge water puddle did not creep, the thunderstorm moved out quicky without striking me, and I was able to make five new friends.
On a more enjoyable note, just yesterday I took a zero day near Pottsville, PA and visited the Yuengling brewery, the oldest brewery in the U.S. Fun facts: the brewery is family owned, currently in it’s 5th generation and is soon to be passed to the 6th: four daughters of the current Mr. Yuengling. Despite being sold in only ten states, it was the 6th largest producer of beer in the U.S., behind the national brands like Busch, Coors, etc. During prohibition they made dairy products like ice cream to stay alive as a business. After prohibition officially ended they sent a barrel of beer to the White House as a gift to President Roosevelt. The president gave the beer to the press though as he “preferred whiskey.”
The tour was free, very informative, and included multiple samplings ;). My favorite part was ‘the cave.’ In the 1800s they built a cave into the mountain, underneath their brewery, where they could store barrels of beer at naturally cool temperatures (before refridgeration). The picture above is from the canning process – thousands of cans being whisked down a conveyor belt and filled with beer.
70 miles left in Pennslyvania and still loving the trail!