Powder River’s Appalachian Trail Journey from Georgia to Maine 2008

501 Shelter

Day 106
Location: 501 Shelter, PA
Miles hiked today: 17.4
Miles from Springer: 1,181.6
Miles to Katahdin: 994.6
Elevation: 1,460′

I had camped several hundred yards closer to the AT than all the people at the shelter, so I did not learn until later that I was actually the last one out of camp. I kept expecting to be passed by people who I thought were behind me, but I was actually the last one.

In the morning, as I climbed down into Rausch Gap I started seeing major signs of an old community here. It was like walking through the ruins of some ancient civilization, with only crumbling stone structures to mark that anybody was ever there. There were what seemed to be old roads, yet were impossibly strewn with giant rocks and difficult to even walk over. There were two massive stone walls on either side of the creek, as if the creek had been a canal and this was an old lock of some sort. Those were all crumbling, and there were more of the giant mounds of earth. There were some foundations to buildings, but no standing structures. There was an old cemetery, which had two legible headstones, describing two men who died young in the 1820’s and had immigrated here from England. This was the town of Rausch Gap, which the sign says was a mining town and railroad repair depot, but did not survive past 1910. How interesting it would have been to see this place in the 1920’s when they first started building the Appalachian Trail through here. I’m sure there must have been more standing buildings here, and maybe even some artifacts laying around.

Somewhere around the William Penn Shelter, I passed the 1,000 miles to Katahdin mark. They do not mark these things of course, but it is just another mental milestone that I can chalk off in my head, and remind me that I am indeed making progress.

And what better way to celebrate a mile marker like that than one of the awesomest shelters on the entire AT? The 501 Shelter is a real piece of work! The shelter itself is a very spacious old building, with one of the best sky lights I have ever seen. Something like 30 percent of the roof is taken up by this skylight, and the book says that the owner had put a potter’s wheel under it. Now it is a picnic table, and the site of much hiker gluttony, because this shelter has pizza delivery! The 501 Shelter gets its name from the road it sits on, and they deliver to the front door. We’re talking a full italian menu, from manicotti to calzones the size of our backpacks!

The shelter also has a shower, and a running water spigot. Does life get better on the trail? Well, yes. Crew Coach, whom I had not seen since the night before, stumbles in looking like a dead man walking. He has just come from town, which is several miles away. His backpack is monstrous. He proceeds to disgorge the contents of said backpack on the table, which we quickly see is stuff from a local store. He starts pulling out an unbelievable amount of juice, gatorade, water and even Ruby Red. He has two 32 ounce gatorades, a 32 ounce V8, a gallon of water and a gallon of Ruby Red. Like a magician pulling rabbits out of a hat, there is still more. There is a pile of gatorade packets. There is candy and snacks, and all sorts of other things. But for the finale, Crew Coach goes beyond the call of duty. He pulls out his sleeping bag, and buried deep in the bottom is a gallon bucket of Superman flavor ice cream! I wanted to hug the man. Crew Coach is definitely the hero of the hour here tonight, and I’ll never figure out how he got nearly 70 pounds of jugs and buckets into his pack! May his name be whispered with awe and respect at every shelter.

I have not witnessed such gluttony on the trail as that which I participated in at the 501 Shelter. The ice cream came long before the pizza delivery, so naturally we ate until we were full. It was a heavy ice cream, with a lemon custard swirled with fruit punch ice cream. The entire bucket contained something like 10,000 calories!

Only after we were sick with ice cream did the pizza come. I had ordered a whole large to myself, with six toppings. Sunny ordered a large calzone (the size of a backpack) and also split a pizza with Barfight. Crew Coach seemed to be the only sensible one, eating merely a foot long sandwich.

Of course, I now have enough food for breakfast and lunch the next day, and can sleep contently! It is too bad about all that ice cream that melted, however, as we couldn’t finish it off. Maybe next time…



1 Comment

  Lori wrote @

Hi Powder River-

Found myself back on your site today. I went through your pictures. Did you take all those? What amazing beauty you have captured. Thanks for sharing with those of us who are enjoying a “vitual” hike! God Bless you!

Lori (Snap’s Mom)

P.S. Rebecca told me she talked with you recently!

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