We did the loop from Michael's book starting in Caledonia SP and camping at Birch Run shelter:
Even though it was only posted six days prior to the hike, we still ended up with a turn out of seven people for this low mileage trip. Shawn, Cindy and Ubaid were waiting at Grosvenor when I pulled up at 8:02 am, which made for a quick start to the trip. We hit some traffic along I-70 east, so arrived at Caledonia at 10:25.
Nate and Amy were already waiting at a picnic bench in the park when we arrived. They had talked with the park rangers on the way into the park and found that they preferred AT hikers to register with them and park across PA-30 from the park, so we followed suit and ended up starting the group on the AT right around 11:00.
With a couple of breaks and regrouping a few times, we wound up at Birch Run shelter at just before 4:30, which gave us plenty of time before sunset around 6:30. A hiker from Columbus, Ohio had already built a small fire in the fire pit by the shelter, so we cut some more firewood to add to the pile for the evening.
Ben joined us at the shelter before sunset along with a southbound through hiker named Butter, the hiker from Columbus and a random distance hiker from Baltimore. With a scruffy white beard, Butter was in his fifties and had just retired, but looked to be older. As is typical of through hikers, he was happy to eat any food we gave him. He had some amusing stories of vociferous eating at various places along the trail. E.g., going to an all-you-can-eat buffet with other through hikers only to eventually get kicked out. Ubaid got some 4-5" logs going in the bonfire, which felt really warm as the temperatures dropped after sunset. The overnight low was projected to be around 41F, but there wasn't any rain, so it was nice weather overall.
Sunrise was around 7:00, so the plan was to hit the trail at 8:20 as it was a LM instead of a MO trip. We hit the trail at 8:28 and I didn't need to wake anyone or encourage people move faster, thus making it a smooth trip. Hiking back on the AT, we got back to the cars around 12:30, so we stopped at Chubby's BBQ about 15 mi south of Gettysburg off of MD-15 for a late lunch. The beers were served in large mason jars, so I was glad I didn't order one as I was driving. We were back at Grosvenor metro around 3:20.
Overall, the trip went smoothly. Perhaps typical of the folks applying for the DC UL group, everyone already knew how to camp in the woods without needing substantial help from the trip organizer. Three of the seven people on the trip were already members, so I was pleased to find that the overhead of leading a trip with the group was so small.
Thanks for the trip report, Andrew! Sounds like you had a good hike!
(I didn't know that about the rangers.)