Location: Doyle Hotel, Duncannon, PA
I’ve failed to keep up with my journal for the last couple of days. Pennsylvania is a rocky mess, and the vistas are unremarkable. Little to tell really.
This morning though, Druid and Not Bad met me at the shelter. Not Bad didn’t make it to the shelter last night. He stealth camped a few miles back and woke up in time to get to the shelter before I left. With only 13 miles to go today, I decided to wait to leave the shelter until later in the morning. Druid, Not Bad and I all left for Duncannon, PA at the same time. We were all reluctant to take the lead since it was going to be a slow day today. None of us wanted to lead the group and be too slow for the others. Eventually I decided to lead. I put on my headphones and set a slow pace.
The trail was rocky all the way to Duncannon. Not Bad struggled to keep up. Druid kept his same, consistent pace that he nearly always achieves. I think his first thru-hike taught him to keep a pace, not to rush that is. He walks uphill at the same speed he walks downhill or on flat ground. He prefers not to hike big miles, instead a string of days in the high teens without taking zero days.
We crossed the long bridge of the Susquehanna River to get to Duncannon. I missed the post office working hours by just minutes. It closed at 4:30pm. The road walk through town seemed to last forever. Duncannon’s one of the larger towns that I’ve visited on the trail. There seemed to be a lot of thugs in the town. I saw people everywhere in black clothes, gold jewelry, and displaying the general mannerisms of people who care about little.
Eventually we found the Doyle Hotel, a rundown hotel in downtown Duncannon. The hotel was one of the original Anheuser-Busch hotels. At one point in its history, the hotel was pristine, visited by respectable guests. I can picture the hotel at its finest, with rich red and green colors and finely polished wood banisters and floors. The second floor has a full wraparound porch with cover. White railings and white columns flake paint now. Glass windows smudged with grease can hardly be seen through, so I was surprised when I pushed through the front door and found myself standing in a smoky bar. Three men looked over their shoulder from the nearby bar to see who had let in the cool fall wind. They turned back around with toothless smiles when they realized I was a hiker.
I knew I was in the right place, but I was a little uneasy until Vicky, one of the owner/operators of the hotel and bar, assured me I was in the right place. Druid, Not Bad, and I registered in the bar for our hotel room upstairs. We walked up three flights of stairs in what had once been a grand foyer to our small corner room. There are about 40 rooms in the hotel, and some of the residents were permanent. Many rented rooms for months at a time and lived in the dingy hotel full time. Druid tells me that at night, hikers often must avoid drunken residents passed out in the hallways, and that many years ago the body of a resident was found by a hiker that smelled a horrible stench seeping through the walls of one of the rooms.
We relaxed most of the night in the bar at the Doyle. Pat, the other owner, and Vicky were nice to let us take up a table in the bar even after we finished our dinners. We had a few beers, but not many. Early in the night we returned to the room with only two beds and one folding chair. Not Bad and I shared a bed and Druid slept in his own.
I forgot to mention that we found Fool at the hotel. He had been ordered by a doctor to take three days rest because of a spider bite on his leg. Judging by the postulating holes, it looks like the spider bit him three times in three different places on his shin. Fool plans to leave for the trail tomorrow. We also learned that Bonefish had already left the hotel and was heading south. After visiting friends at Cornell, he returned to the trail at Duncannon, skipping 110 miles of trail since leaving the trail at Palmerton, PA, where I met Katie.