We left our tiny motel room in Breezewood excited for the day ahead. We’d get to do some real “urban exploring” by walking on the abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike (legally, too!). This was a 10-mile stretch we’d never forget.
The first four miles were eerie. It was quiet, something we weren’t used to. We woke up early so the sunrays were shining through a light fog. The air was still cool, the breeze was flowing through the wood. We only saw two other souls for the first hour and a half. Then, we approached the first monolith…
We’d made it to the first of two tunnels. This was the shorter one, just under a mile in length. More importantly, you could see the light at the other end; you didn’t NEED a flashlight to reach the other side, but it is recommended. We entered:
We came out of the other side of the tunnel…unscathed. It was pretty spooky inside. The walls were covered in graffiti floor to ceiling (mostly about drugs and dirty words).
The road continued. For the first time we really felt like we were in a post-apocalyptic setting; the trees were overtaking the road, and nature was reclaiming what was rightfully hers. Man could no longer tame her.
This road was in fact used in the film ‘The Road’, the screen adaptation of the award winning novel The Road.
After a few miles we soon approached the second tunnel. This one was over a mile long. The path also bends slightly up in the middle, which means you cannot see the light at the end of this tunnel. It gets DARK in there! A flashlight is a must.
After exiting the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike, we walked along an old country road for many miles. Only one car passed that first half hour, and we soon found our why:
We were crossing the modern day Turnpike, and there was a construction crew at the underpass. It was closed, and we panicked briefly when we realized we may have to reroute. When we checked Google Maps we saw it may mean a few more miles, which could mean hours on foot. Luckily, we asked the foreman if we could pass through; he responded “Of course, but you have to pay the toll.”
When we reached our destination town for the Friday night, we reflected on the name. Apparently the town of Burnt Cabins was named after an order of the government to burn down the cabins of the early white settlers to maintain the peace with the Native Americans. And they did. But they do have a beautiful campground:
Saturday morning we set out about the mountains and intended on knocking on a friendly looking house and ask to camp, somewhere around 25 miles past Friday night’s campground.
The way up the mountain was tough. We walked up a very steep incline for almost 45 minutes straight, without a break. After a quick rest at the top, we proceeded down the mountain. After a rough mile or two down, and around very tight, dangerous shoulders, a truck pulled to the side of the road. We don’t normally accept rides, but the driver said the shoulders only get worse, and he offered to drive us to the bottom of the mountain, so we agreed.
The first town after the mountain was Roxbury, and something magical happened when we crossed the road to take our posed photos with the town sign. The home owner saw us posing, and came out to talk. We explained we were walking across the country, and planned on knocking on a door, 8-9 miles down the road. He offered to let us camp in his backyard, and said he was grilling some chickens he’d raised. It was hard to pass up (his neighbor even came by to give us some iced tea!).
We stayed up almost all night trading stories with Steve and his wife Joyce, and had a terrific night shooting pool in his basement. In the morning they fixed us breakfast, including a salsa omelette. We had a great Night at the Roxbury (Thanks, Steve & Joyce!).
Sunday was also exciting as we planned on ending and camping on the Appalachian Trail! The trail crossed the main highway we were taking to Harrisburg just east of Carlisle. We saw some great signs on the way.
On our way into Carlisle, Dickinson College was having a ceremony to
begin the school year, so we saw students dressed to the 9’s, and professors in their professor garb.
…we felt out of place, as we were looking for a public place to eat our grilled chicken:
We found the Appalachian Trail and hiked in a mile to find a place to set up our tent for the night.
Today(s) we walked through:
Tim: 51,262; 34,675; and 39,341 steps
Rebecca: 54,068; 36,297; and 41,925 steps
2,948 miles finished