Hiking on Two Feet

About forty miles from the Maryland state border in Pine Grove Furnace, PA sits a stone building built more than two hundred years ago as a grist mill that now houses the Appalachian Trail Museum. The museum is near the midway point of the Appalachian Trail and thru-hikers traditionally stop and celebrate by attempting to eat a half-gallon of ice cream in one sitting at the Pine Grove General Store.



Appalachian Trail Museum, Pine Grove Furnace, PA

Adventurers who follow the white blaze from Springer Mountain, GA to Mount Katahdin, ME earn the right to be called a thru-hiker of the Appalachian Trail. The white blazes are the white paint brush strokes that mark trees and boulders the entire 2,081 miles of the trail. In rare areas where the trail dissects a town, hikers have to canvas telephone poles, buildings, street signs, and even sidewalks for white blazes.



The White Blaze marking the Appalachian Trail

Midway marker on the Appalachian Trail. 1,090.5 miles north to Mount Katahdin, ME, and 1,090.5 miles south to Springer Mountain, GA.IMG_6127

Many thru-hikers consider Quarry Gap Shelter the nicest shelter on the Appalachian Trail.



Most shelters on the trail are rustic three-walled structures or lentos, sturdy buildings constructed of logs to protect travelers from the elements.



Trekking from Pine Grove Furnace to Maryland marked my first trek on the AT without my hiking partner Bella. I’d scattered her ashes from a couple of overlooks we regularly hiked to and during this hike I wrote Hiking With Two Feet to commemorate the many miles we’d put in together on the trail:

Hiking on Two Feet

haze lingers on the Susquehanna
hydrogen, oxygen and dreams

of timber hauled by horse-
drawn wagon a century ago

to construct shelter along
a mile-high ridge

rapids gurgle and flush
through leaves of maple

mist lifts your wet tongue
strokes my face, I wake

fasten my backpack
and follow your paw-less lead



Crossing the Pennsylvania-Maryland state line


About Jim Brennan

Jim is a Philadelphia-based writer, author, poet and editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.
This entry was posted in poetry, Poetry, Running and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Hiking on Two Feet

  1. BuzzCut says:

    I loved your photos – and Quarry Gap is the best (that I’d seen). I’m sorry about your friend, Bella. I hope you enjoy your October hiking!


  2. A beautiful post and thoughtful memorial to your trail buddy Bella. Many thanks to the great volunteers who ensure those white blazes along the Appalachian Trail are in place.


    • Jim Brennan says:

      Without volunteers the AT would languish and so many outdoor enthusiasts wouldn’t be able to enjoy nature. Hats off to their dedication and efforts that benefit it all. Thank you, Mary Lou.


  3. Such a beautiful tribute to Bella, Jim, and exquisite photos!


  4. Patrick says:

    Hey Jim! Great Photos! Highly recommend “AWOL on the Appalachian Trail’ by David Miller – But Somehow think you’ve already read it. Cheers!


  5. Paul B says:

    Lovely photos Jim, lovely memories, lovely words.


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