In at Cove Mountain. Early afternoon. Got in at 12:30 after covering 7.3 miles in four hours. Not too much up and down but plenty of rocks. Day started out sunny and bright but has been mostly cloudy and cool since mid to late morning. Nice walking. Off North Mountain, across a small valley and some open fields, up Cove Mountain (a pretty easy climb), along the ridge to the side trail for the shelter. Side trail is a steep 200 yard drop and water is another steep 125 yards. The shelter is nice: board and batten with four bunks, an overhang protecting a cooking area and a carved face on the end of its center beam. Met my first thru-hiker here: E, who left Springer on February 27. He wants to finish before starting a job on July 2.
Evening: Moved on to Hawk Rock. Didn't want to stay in the shelter at Cove Mountain and no good tent sites were nearby. An entry in the shelter register told of camping at Hawk Rock and a trail runner told me a campsite was available above the rocks. Found it but decided to camp at the rock for the view so I'll be sleeping on a slope. May be doing some climbing in m sleep. View is worth it--wide open, east, west and north. Duncannon is just below on a wide bend in the Susquehanna River at its confluence with the Juanita River. I can see north maybe 50 miles, past two ridges in the near distance to a third in the far distance. Sun is breaking through the clouds, bathing the woods in soft light. I can feel its warmth.
Met another hiker after leaving the shelter, a section hiker walking to Boiling Springs. He was heading for the shelter so I would have had company if I stayed but with no tent site that was not to be. I want my tent for warmth--nights are still quite cold on these Pennsylvania mountains in early May. Still, I'll take the cold. I can imagine all too well what this section of trail would be like in July.
I am enjoying the solitude of the trail here. I'm by myself much of the time but I'm not lonely. Thru-hikers are already coming through. E was looking for two others, Robin and Juicy. I expect I will see them as I come south. My solitude is also limited by the proximity of so many people who inhabit this region. I see their houses, fields, bridges and railroads. I will see many lights in the valleys below tonight. I hear their traffic, their barking dogs. For all that, I am apart from them. Not of their world or vice versa. The five people I've seen since yesterday morning were part of the trail--they made the effort to be out--but all the people driving by are only background.