The weary hikers pause at the shelter trail and look to their leader....

"It's up to you, Greybeard."

It starts to rain. He nods. The decision is made.


And thats why General Greybeard would be followed.

This past weekend we had the honor of hiking with my dad (trail name Greybeard ; its a complicated story) and sister Jennifer ( trail name Snake Vandelay; for obvious reasons). We started at Pine Grove Furnace State Park, with a plan in mind...

We'd meet Friday, get dinner with Dr Mom before she headed back to civilzation, and us to the woods. Then 7 miles hiking on Saturday to James Fry Shelter, and 8 the next to Alec Kennedy Shelter. Monday we'd hike another 4 to Boiling Springs, Pa, where Dr mom would pick them up and return them to their posts as responsible contributing citizens.

The plan was in place.

Friday, after hours of literally sitting in front of the park's general store (after watching 4 hiker heroes complete the half gallon challenge, and completing our own epic 1/4 pint challenge) we were late to meet the fam. Had plenty of time to take showers before they got there, and i even had access to multiple watches. Whoops. The fam was somehow still willing to wait for us to shower before dinner...

Stuffed our faces at the Mt Holly Springs Inn, horrified them all with our appetites, and then bid adieu to Dr Mom ("the smart one," she laughed, as she drove off home to a bed). The 4 remaining brave ones set off to our tents, enjoyed smores and "gingerale" around a fire, and pumped ourselves up for the journey ahead.

And of course - the weather- rain, rain, rain.

Next morning, we were off! To the general store, 0.2 miles from camp for, what else - second breakfast (this is our theme for a reason). After saying hello to our friends Ram Sham and Ad Cane, and getting coffee, grilled ham and cheese, and a healthy resupply of snickers, we were finally off.

The great General Greybeard had his doubts, but he pushed on valiently. Snake Vandelay kept a lookout for snakes. And regaled us all with Seinfield episodes.

And finally, the shelter. With trail magic! Chicken Wing, caretaker of another shelter had a fire going, snacks and soda. Later, Ram Sham and Ad Cane joined, along with Spam, Serenity, Treebeard and Stormsong. It was "Hiker Tight!" as they say, in the shelter.

Next morning we hike out another 1.3 miles to - yessssss- second breakfast at green mountain deli, just .2 miles from the trail. Or .6 if you walk the wrong way like we did.
Less rain today so the start was pretty nice. Until we hit the rocks. Boulders to scramble over and tons of smaller ones to step around. Greybeard wisely asks why they brought in annoying rocks for the trail. But we push on for the shelter, until.....

"If we push on 4 more miles we could have a bed and a beer tonight," Snake Vandelay suggests...

And the rest is history (kinda).

We bravely pushed on in the name of beer, and push on we did. Finally emerging from the hills into farmland, we knew we were close. So close!

Finally, the quaint town of Boiling Springs emerges. We check into a nearby b&b, gelinas b&b, showered, admired their amazing bright yellow shag carpeting, and inquired about beer.

It was Sunday. In PA. The town tavern was closed and no beer in sight.

Alas - showers, italian food, and a bottle of wine from the b&b owner (he took pity on our sorrow) made everything ok. The journey was over - a huge sucess.

Almost 20 miles in 2 days - congrats to Greybeard amd Snake Vandelay!