Day 28: Superfun(d) and, yep, magic!

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Trish picked me up around 9:30 and took me back to the trailhead. That woman really saved me. I don’t know what I would have done if she hadn’t picked me up the night before!

Day 28 started with a super fun climb out of the Palmerton Superfund Site. The city of Palmerton used to have a Zinc mine, which stripped the mountain of pretty much all its vegetation. There are vegetation restoration efforts happening now, but the climb up the mountain is basically a climb up a giant rock jungle gym. And, despite (or because of) the environmental detestation, it was the most beautiful climb and hike I’ve had since being out here. Because there is no canopy of trees, the views on the ridge stretch on forever. This, combined with sunny weather, made the first five miles of the day go by very quickly! 

There is verrrrryyyy little water on the ridge, so I was happy to find some trail magic water bottles about 5 miles in. I drank two, ate a snack, and carried on.

The next 8 miles were rouggghhhh. My body was tired and the rocks were frustrating. Every step I took had to be calculated so I wouldn’t fall over or roll an ankle, and that got annoying. 

I decided to stop for lunch after the rough stretch and was joined by a guy named Goldstar. He was going to a shelter just about 3 miles past where I was eating lunch, but I was hiking into Wind Gap, PA, which was about 8 miles further.

We hiked the three miles together, which was really helpful to get my mind off how tired I was. He is one of the most hilarious people I’ve met out here. He made me promise that if we saw a rattlesnake that I would take a picture of him holding it. Of course, I said yes. Then I asked him how he was going to do it. He had a plan that included a forked stick. I really hoped we wouldn’t see one. 

After we hiked to the shelter, I continued on the rest of the way to Wind Gap. I walked into town around 6:30 pm. Across the street as I came in was a sports bar. I saw a guy come out from the bar and run across the street toward me. He introduced himself and explained that he was on the committee that made Wind Gap into an official trail town. He told me that the committee was having a meeting that evening at the bar and asked if I would join them for dinner.

Of course, I said YES! The committee showed up, and it included 1) a woman that I had just seen on a billboard while walking into town, 2) a couple of business owners, 3) a former city mayor (the only female mayor in the town’s history, I might add), and 4) the newspaper owner. We all became fast friends, and I sat through their meeting and ate fish tacos. The main topic of the meeting was their annual holiday fundraising concert. 

They paid for my dinner and beer (AMAZING) and the newspaper owner took my picture to put in the paper. HA!! Then, one of the guys gave me a ride to a hotel. Magiccccc!!

Spencer had actually been driving from Kansas while I hiked, and we had planned to meet at the hotel in Wind Gap. He drove the 23 hours in order to surprise his mom who lives in Pennsylvania and to possibly take me home from the trail.

So we are at his mom’s house now resting and having fun. I’m about 95% sure that I am done hiking–my body and mind can’t take much more of it. It’s disappointing to think about quitting and right now, disappointing is really the only word I have to describe the thought. 

I’ll try to collect more of my thoughts over the next couple days and will blog again about the decision.

   Results of the zinc mine…even after growing back for 35 years

  View from the top of the rocks

  Super fun site!
  This is how to dry shoes 

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Day 16: Crossed into Pennsylvania

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Made it 15 miles today and crossed into Pennsylvania. This is my 4th state! My knee held up until about the last 3 miles, but I made it and took some ibuprofen and am resting now! Feels good. 
I started the day in PenMar Park, which is on the border of Pennsylvania and Maryland. Back in the late 1800s PenMar Park was a huge summer getaway. We’re talking a fancy dining room that seated 5,000 people. We’re talking a church picnic that attracted 15,000 people. Can you imagine how much potato salad was consumed? Huge. They had a dance pavilion, a penny arcade, a train, plenty of overlooks pand tons of hotels. The park lost popularity as the 1900s rolled on, and when I was there today, there were only two other people there. And those two other people gave me cookies! 

I met two women today: Hendo and Hendo’s mom. Hendo, like a lot of hikers out here, is a veteran who was deployed to Afghanistan and to Iraq and is now “walking off the war.” She and her mom have been walking the trail for 15 months– FIFTEEN MONTHS!! They told me that they spent a good portion of the winter snowshoeing Vermont. I wish I would have asked them how much more trail they had. I can’t imagine what “real life” would look like after 15 months of walking. 

There are two other guys at the shelter tonight. Both of them are section hikers, but both of them are planning to hike up to Maine like me. Big sections! 

Doing about 13 tomorrow. I hear there is a snack bar along the trail tomorrow. I WILL be getting myself a Dr. Pepper. 

 Pennsylvania! Bye, Maryland!

 Hendo’s bag patches  

Day 7: Slackpacking is great. And controversial. But mostly great.

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I woke up in the Terrapin Station Hostel this morning to more rain. Papillon suggested we take a zero (a rest day), but I wanted to be in Harper’s Ferry by Friday to pick up a resupply package and to take a zero.

Side note: Harper’s Ferry saw a lot of action in the Civil War, but most interestingly to Kansans, it is where Kansan John Brown raided and captured the federal arsenal, which, as I understand, was only being by protected one guard. However, Robert E. Lee crushed the raid in 3 days and then hung Brown for treason. Wah-wah.

ANYWAY- despite the rain, I wanted to hike so I suggested that we slack pack 17 miles. Slack packing works like this:

1) You stay at a hostel and leave your pack there in the morning. Only take a day pack with water and food you’ll need for the day.

2) Hostel owner drives you 17 miles north up the trail and drops you off.

3) You walk south the 17 miles back to the hostel and stay the night there again.

4) The next morning, you take your whole pack and the hostel owner drives you 17 miles north up the trail again. This time, you walk north.

5) This mean that you’ve covered 17 miles of trail (even though you walked it backwards), but you didn’t have to wear your pack and you get to sleep in a dry bed that night.

Slack packing is controversial because to the more “purist” hikers, slacking is cheating. To me, it’s amazing.

So we slack packed! And it was incredible. My right knee was beginning to hurt at the end of yesterday’s hike, and without the pack today, it feels much better! And I actually enjoyed the climbs today instead of dreading them. I wish I could slack pack this whole dang thing. It’d make it a whole lot more fun!

Going to try for 17.5 miles tomorrow with my stupid 30-pound pack. Watching Planet Earth and eating ice cream tonight.

Peace!

 Walking in the rain and mist. 

Days 3 & 4: Much better

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I’m writing this at lunch time of day 4 from a place called Skyland. We climbed way up to get here, but there is awesome 3G! Hey-o! 

Yesterday went much better than Day 1. I did 9 miles yesterday and met two other thru-hikers about 2 miles from the place I was going to camp. Their names are Piston and Papillon (French for butterfly). We are lunch at a little Wayside and then went down to the campground to do laundry and shower. We then set up our tents and went to the Lodge for a beer and dinner. There, we met Yellowbird, Snuggles, Darwin and Roob. They have all been hiking since Georgia, so I’m doing much fewer miles per day than them. 

Papillon and I decided to split the cost of a campsite and hike together today because he is doing fewer miles than the others. He’s a middle-aged guy (At least, that’s what I assume from the gray in his beard). We are doing 14 miles today–we’ve already done 8 this morning. Hopefully I can keep up. It’s hard hiking with people who already have their “hiking legs”!

Speaking of legs, I’ve gotten lucky so far with blisters. I only have one, and it’s not too painful. I’ve been treating it consistently, so hopefully it goes away soon.

 Only 1265 miles to go!  
 Some a-okay views today. 

This deer ain’t scared. *
*Not pictured: the first bear I saw today! He was really scared. Took off as soon as he saw us.