As I write this, I’m on an airplane flying back to Kansas. Fear not! It’s a round-trip ticket so I’ll be back on the trail in about a week.
Good timing made it possible to get off the trail to heal my knee, surprise Spencer, see his band play a couple of music festivals, celebrate my roommate Sophie’s birthday, see my parents, and host a couple friends from Nova Scotia– all in a week!!
So, now, backing up to the last few days of hiking:
In the early morning hours of Day 20, I discovered that my tent had flooded. It had rained constantly all night long, but fortunately, it didn’t flood until around 5:30 in the morning so it just gave me a kick in the pants to wake up and walk back into Boiling Springs to get breakfast!
After that, I hiked a little over 8 miles and then decided to walk .4 miles off trail to a highway diner listed in my guidebook for second breakfast. As I was walking into the diner, an older man and his wife were walking out. He asked how far I was going, and I said, “To Maine.” He said, “Well, I was going to guess you weren’t just taking a walk around the block.” We stood and chatted for a while about the trail, and then he opened his wallet, handed me $8 and said lunch was on him. What a trail angel!
After lunch, I hiked a little more than 6 miles to a shelter. Most of the way, I walked about 50 yards behind a man in his 70s (maybe 80s?) in a bright yellow shirt. He only had a hydration pack on so I knew he couldn’t be a thruhiker. I caught up with him after about 4 miles and said hello. We got to talking, and I found out that he lives in Boiling Springs and walks from Boiling Springs to a parking lot 12 miles north on the AT six times per week. His wife picks him up in the same parking lot at the same time every day.
I got to the shelter early and was able to dry out my tent, sleeping bag and shoes there. Because the bugs were so bad, I decided to tent again that night.
It rained through the night again, and I woke up every couple hours to make sure my tent was still dry. Made it through the night without flooding again! Hooray!
On Day 21, I walked the 11.4 miles into Duncannon. As I was walking up the street, I saw Papillon who I hadn’t seen in a couple weeks. We caught up briefly, as he was headed into Harrisburg with Hot Sauce, Jacoby, Billy, Craynip, and Sota Sam to see a movie. There’s a long-time trail angel in Duncannon who gave the guys the keys to her car to take into Harrisburg for a movie. What a trusting lady!
Soon after, Spencer’s mom, Brenda, picked me up in Duncannon, which is about a 20 minute drive from her house. I spent the afternoon swimming in their pool, eating sushi and pizza, drinking Dr. Pepper, doing laundry and coordinating our stories so Spencer wouldn’t know I was coming home. It felt AMAZING to be in such a nice, clean place and to be force fed all of my favorite things. Best stop on the trip so far!