A re-telling of what has become a classic story.
While thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, you can find yourself in places you never expected to be. Sometimes its a naturally formed rock cave, sometimes its a ladder going into someone’s cow pasture (complete with curious cows), and sometimes its the middle of the street in Port Clinton, Pennsylvania with a taser in your back.
Or, at least, that was Treasure Hunter’s experience.
The series of white blazes that designates the AT are found in 10 towns along the east coast (Hanover, VT; North Adams, MA; Dalton, MA; Chesire, MA; Port Clinton, PA; Duncannon, PA; Boiling Springs, PA; Harper’s Ferry, WV; Damascus, VA; Hot Springs, NC). Many people imagine the trail as a continuous dirt path, but sometimes to get from one mountain to another, the AT is obliged to do some road walking.
So we found ourselves on a rainy weekend hanging out in Port Clinton, PA where the town provides a shelter for AT hikers passing through in the form of a roofed pavilion in the park. There’s even a privy across the street. (What more do you need?)
We arrived, soaking wet, to find some other hikers in the pavilion as well trying to ride out the storm. As the day went on and the rain died down, we all decided to check out the town, namely the local watering hole. Which turned out to be the fire station, where you knock on the door and they let you into a room with a bar and $2 beer! (Awesome, right? Just wait.)
We were sitting in this establishment when Treasure Hunter decided he was done and wanted to go back to the shelter. He left alone and less than an hour later, me, Cake, Hawk Man, Showers, and Atlas followed his lead.
We did not expect to find him sitting on the sidewalk in front of someone’s house with his hands up.
So here’s the story, as Treasure Hunter tells it.
He was walking back from the fire station (a distance of a mile or so) and walking by some cars parked on the side of the road when all of a sudden, a woman in the house across the street came out of her door and started shouting: THAT’S HIM! THAT’S THE GUY WHO’S BEEN BREAKING INTO OUR CARS!
At which point another car had pulled up, and as Treasure Hunter was turning to address this woman screaming on her porch, the driver of the vehicle came up behind him and TASED HIM. The electric jolt shocked through his body and he turned around to find another woman holding a small taser and demanding to know who he was and what he was doing there. So, he explained that he was an AT thru-hiker walking back to the town’s pavilion.
This answer was not well received because, we didn’t know it, but a week or so ago a few thru-hikers had been playing the fool in Port Clinton. A classic story of the kind of jackassery that some people have heard about regarding the AT this year. A group of hikers got drunk at the FREE pavilion the town provides and decided to go into someone’s yard and ride their childrens’ bicycles around the town before getting bored and dropping the bikes at a random location.
But ever since, the town has been wary of the parade of hikers that is typically a source of economy for local businesses.
Treasure Hunter was pleading his case with a gathering crowd of people from the houses nearby when the rest of us showed up. We vouched for him and told them we were just hikers and we were just passing through, that we had no need for a car or anything within one, and that we were leaving the town, on the trail, in the morning anyway. After we extracted Treasure Hunter and got back to the shelter, the police came and the matter was resolved within a few words. The next morning, we got the heck back into the woods.
So there’s a relatively happy ending. Treasure Hunter left Port Clinton with a special souvenir (twin burn marks), and now I can always turn to him and say, “Hey, remember that time you got tased?”
Good times 😉