This was my introduction to Peters Mountain, and a few trail legends. Tom Twaites, author of the “50 Hikes” series to Pennsylvania, sat and chatted a while. A group of us walked over to the Earl Shaffer Shelter, one of several that the first thru-hiker Earl Shaffer built along the AT, here near his home. It was tiny and rustic, with a very low floor. “Earl doesn’t like the floor,” said one hiker. The new Peters Mountain Shelter seemed like a 5-star hotel by comparison. Earl’s shelter is now in the Appalachian Trail Museum.
“This place is cleaner than the Doyle!” said several of the crew who pulled into the shelter as John and I claimed a corner for the night. Downshift and Sid, August, and Stripper are camping nearby, despite the welcome and clean two-story facilities. Musicman and Scout pile in. John offers to go for water. “I’ve been down there,” I said. “It’s a long trek.” Sure enough, it takes him more than a half hour to walk down the stone steps and return with a bucketful, which we shared after filtering what we needed.
I’m delighted to see how this shelter has held up over the years. It’s still a excellent piece of trail craftsmanship, well-maintained and not marred by grafitti like we’ve seen in the older shelters up here. As evening falls, I think of Tom, and Earl, and the legacy of those early trail builders, here atop a mountain which is often not broad enough to support a footpath, only a ridgetop jumble of rocks — which of course, the trail follows.