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  1. #1

    Default Where exactly is Rocksylvania?

    My "Five Miles a Day" approach to the AT is now heading into PA. So far in the south I've completed from the MD line to Pine Grove Rd, and in the north from Fox Gap to DWG. My next hike is planned for Wind Gap to Fox Gap (8 miles, I know, but I've feeling adventurous), and subsequent hikes will be incrementally southward.

    When/where can I expect to encounter the infamous, ankle-breaking, boot-killing, what-am-I-doing-out-here rocks?

    And will I still be able to wear my trailrunners, or are a harder-soled boot/shoe a must?
    ...the maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not as it should be. Cervantes

  2. #2
    Registered User Christoph's Avatar
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    Pretty much the upper half of the state. I wore trail runners on my thru, but my feet were a little "roughened up" by then. Just watch your step, every step. I thought it wasn't as bad as it was made out to be, but I was also looking forward to the challenge (I'm weird like that, I guess). I remember my feet did hurt after 3 days of straight rocks, but the views (landscape and animals alike) are pretty nice in Pa.
    - Trail name: Thumper

  3. #3

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    A few miles south of Duncannon to the High Point Shelter in NJ. From Duncan to Port Clinton is baby rocks. Port Clinton and further north is more serious. Very noticeably less rocks north of the High Point Shelter in NJ.

    You will adapt. Your body learns to do them. Itís amazing.

  4. #4

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    The Wind gap area is pretty rocky. I can't specifically recall the Wind gap to Fox gap section, other then the climb out of Wind gap was "interesting". You'll no doubt hit a few mile or so long boulder fields to stumble through.

    Personally, I go with a boot with a stiff sole. The main issue I had was my feet are pretty narrow and the boot fairly wide, so my feet roll in them when side stepping rocks, which happens a lot. Mostly my right foot for some reason. I also seem to not lift my feet up high enough and the toes of the boots got destroyed with all the rocks I caught with my toe.

    Of course, that was over the course of the whole state. For a 8 mile day hike and light load, you can get away with a light shoe, but I'd still recommend having Superfeet inserts.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  5. #5
    I plan, therefore I am Strategic's Avatar
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    Generally, as everyone is saying, it's the Duncannon to High Point sections (i.e., the northern half of PA and the southern half of NJ.) To give you an idea of what everyone really means when they talk about "Rocksylvania" and "the place boots go to die" here's the pic I took of the climb NOBO out of Little Gap:
    15_-_first_rock_climb_nobo_out_of_little_gap.jpg
    Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
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  6. #6
    Registered User Christoph's Avatar
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    Yeah, you can expect some pretty tough going, but expect low miles per day and you'll be just fine. It's not "all" like that, but most of it is. You'll have fun, take the challenge!
    - Trail name: Thumper

  7. #7

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    My state and area is overrated for difficulty. The rocks are on and off. Most of it is ridge walking. I guess Wind Gap to Fox Gap is around the worst. Knife's Edge north of 309 is a boulder field. North of the 501 shelter has a boulder section. I don't know. I don't feel like any sections of rocks lasts too long.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Durunner View Post
    I don't know. I don't feel like any sections of rocks lasts too long.
    True, but they can come often enough over the course of a day to become seriously annoying. When doing the whole state in one go the cumulative affect can't be discounted.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  9. #9
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    I did Wind Gap to Lehigh Gap a few years ago. That was a solid 20 miles. You won't be going as far, but I can tell you the part you will be on is nothing but rocks. There are not any large boulders, just the annoying, shoe destroying rocks that everyone complains about it Pennsylvania. The boulders and real fun hit when you get to Lehigh Gap on a later hike.
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  10. #10

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    I once encountered a hiker that did that part of the trail. When he got done, the front half of his "light weight" boots were gone! Ripped apart from the Rocks! No Lie. (BTW, he was SB and I meet him in Duncannon.)

  11. #11
    Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    True, but they can come often enough over the course of a day to become seriously annoying.

    Anything that involves being outside with a backpack is automatically off the "seriously annoying" list. I can sit at my desk for that.

  12. #12

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    Rocksylvania Ave

    Iowa Falls, IA 50126

    A bit off the A.T.
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  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Durunner View Post
    My state and area is overrated for difficulty. The rocks are on and off. Most of it is ridge walking. I guess Wind Gap to Fox Gap is around the worst. Knife's Edge north of 309 is a boulder field. North of the 501 shelter has a boulder section. I don't know. I don't feel like any sections of rocks lasts too long.
    Well the hike plan changed and I ended up going SOBO from 183 to 645. I didn't find it overly difficult and now understand what you mean by on and off. Oddly, it didn't slow me down as much as I thought it would, and the 11 miles weren't particularly taxing. I'll be making a journal entry about it soon, but I'm happy to say that a good deal of my PA trepidation has been alleviated. (except for the Lehigh Gap height thing). Thanks everyone.
    ...the maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not as it should be. Cervantes

  14. #14

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    Lehigh gap is overrated. It looks to me that they put in a bunch of switchbacks and there is only one little rock scramble near the top. It's kind of exposed, so I guess if your not used to that kind of thing, it can be a little intimidating. For a White Mountain hiker it was like, come on that's all you got? The trick is to ignore the view and just look at what's right in front of you.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  15. #15
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    Best way to avoid the rocks: hike in snow. We slacked a 12-miles stretch north of Lehigh Gap last year end of March/early April. Seven inches of snow fell overnight and covered up a lot of the rocks, especially the smaller ones that litter the trail. We were able to glide along...

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    Best way to avoid the rocks: hike in snow. We slacked a 12-miles stretch north of Lehigh Gap last year end of March/early April. Seven inches of snow fell overnight and covered up a lot of the rocks, especially the smaller ones that litter the trail. We were able to glide along...
    Good thing there wasn't ice, or then you might have been sliding instead of gliding.
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  17. #17
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    The rocks are overhyped. Shorter days, no trailrunners. Really? I don’t believe the rocks are any worse than Md or even further south until after you get north of Port Clinton. I trail run from Swatara Gap south and wear ultra light trail runners. While hiking those sections my mileage was every bit as high as any point south of Vermont.
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  18. #18
    Registered User gbolt's Avatar
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    I like the fact that things are overhyped! To me the trail is perfect at providing you breaks and challenges as you Hike along. Each state was fun and a wonderful time to complain about something; so that boredom never occurred! It was awesome to stand at the top of Lehigh Gap and say, “Heck that wasn’t so bad”; but also realize how fortunate we were to do it in dry weather.
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  19. #19
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Lehigh gap is overrated. It looks to me that they put in a bunch of switchbacks and there is only one little rock scramble near the top. It's kind of exposed, so I guess if your not used to that kind of thing, it can be a little intimidating. For a White Mountain hiker it was like, come on that's all you got? The trick is to ignore the view and just look at what's right in front of you.
    To a point I agree, especially since I have since gone through the White Mountains and southern Maine. However, Lehigh Gap will always resonate with me because I did it in the dark (not intentionally) and I got lost up there on those boulders (couldn't see the blazes). I thought I was going to be spending the night on them, but I finally navigated my way out of there. For a hiker who had never been in that type of situation before, it was not fun.
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