After climbing the primary half of the path solo, I loved a extra social week on path after crossing the midway mark.
In fact, my definition of a “party” is perhaps drastically skewed at this level – small pleasures go a great distance. For example, I BAILED on the 4-State Problem (44 miles in 24 hours) with astounding conviction by as an alternative paying for my first night time in a lodge and posting up with this:
Discover that I ate a piece of the pizza earlier than I mustered the self-control to snap a image.
Okay – so perhaps one beer, pizza, and a pint of ice cream alone at a High quality Inn doesn’t qualify as “social”, however I thought-about it a celebration.
Nevertheless, I did lately encounter a Sobo bubble! Breezy, Misplaced-and-Discovered, Search-and-Rescue, Cool Boi, Tinkerbell, Sincerity, Smalls, Yellow Jacket – everybody is inside 20 miles. Wildlife is a few days behind and Sonic and Faye are solely about a day forward. I haven’t had any type of path household (or “tramily”) because the 100 Mile Wilderness, and I solely met a handful of latest Sobos between Vermont and New Jersey, so this has been a welcome shock. Along with thru-hikers, I crossed the midway level and discovered some unlikely new pals who helped me have fun one afternoon.
The path itself has turn out to be far more forgiving as I’ve traversed Maryland and West Virginia into Virginia. The rocks have given option to softer soil scattered with fallen leaves of all colours. The precipitous drops of Maine and New Hampshire appear a distant reminiscence.
I’m presently sitting in a brewery in Entrance Royal, on the brink of head into Shenandoah this night. Under are my entries from the final week. Take pleasure in!
Midway, Rattlesnakes, and Get together Crashing (Saturday, September 30)
I reached the midway level at present! Apparently, the official signal strikes annually because of modifications within the path: reroutes and additions change the path size and, consequently, the midway market. As a end result, the signal is a bit underwhelming:
However I’m excited! I really feel much less emotional than I assumed I might – figuring out that you simply nonetheless have one other 1,100 miles to go considerably blunts the elation that you simply may assume would accompany such a milestone.
I got here throughout some day hikers at a shelter (one was sort sufficient to insist that he take my trash), and they warned me that a hiker coming northbound had encountered a rattlesnake on the path about a half mile forward.
Unusually, I hadn’t considered rattlesnakes but. I additionally realized that I knew nothing about them. For those who get bit, do you simply get sick? Or do you’ve got an hour to get injected with an antidote earlier than you die? I knew that the truth is doubtless someplace in between, however with no cell service, I couldn’t do any analysis. As I walked on down the path, I discovered myself too terrified to proceed listening to my audiobook, lest I miss the sound of a rattle and condemn myself to not solely an early finish to my thru-hike but in addition a fast, venom-induced dying.
A mile later, I discovered the precise reverse of a rattlesnake: two grown males strolling down the path with a pack of chocolate desserts (Yodels) caught with lit birthday candles. I shortly put collectively that they have been strolling into a close by campsite to sing completely happy birthday and requested if I might sing alongside, anticipating to shock a 10-year-Previous woman and her household out tenting for the weekend. One man stated, “Absolutely.”
To my shock, I discovered 4 guys celebrating two of their 60th birthdays. I walked up, singing my greatest rendition of Glad Birthday. All of us quieted, and one of many birthday boys (males) checked out me and requested, “Who the **** are you?”
His comment, fortuitously for me, was in jest not truly anger or annoyance. These 4 males had recognized one another for nearly forty years, and one in every of them had thru-hiked the path southbound within the early 1980s. This spot, apparently, has been their favourite tenting spot for many years. That they had a picnic desk full of meals, surrounded by timber strung with balloons and streamers. They even had Burger King cardboard crowns for everybody to put on. Lastly, and most noticeably, they have been all very, very drunk.
They provided me a beer, and figuring out that I had solely 5 miles till he shelter, I accepted. The meals on the desk was up for grabs, they stated, and I welcomed the additional energy. At one level, as they have been recounting previous tales, they handed round a bottle of whiskey. I took a modest swig and then discretely handed with out partaking because it got here round a second and third time. Once I left, they have been virtually throwing meals at me to tackle my hike. I promised that I wouldn’t take off the crown for the remainder of the day in honor of their sixtieth.
They stated they didn’t need their footage posted on-line, however I snapped certainly one of myself as I hit the path once more:
That’s the look of somebody who hikes 20 miles a day and simply had his first style of exhausting alcohol in months. I waddled these final 5 miles and unsurprisingly, didn’t assume as soon as about rattlesnakes. Then, I discovered myself at one thing extra akin to a backyard sanctuary than a shelter:
Flower pots, a swinging bench, an immaculately stored privy and sleeping quarters, and a lovely stream carved out 10 ft from the hearth pit. Each entry within the logbook stated virtually the identical factor: “NICEST SHELTER ON THE TRAIL!” Apparently, the caretaker takes nice satisfaction in sustaining Quarry Hole Shelter.
Breezy was there. We lit a hearth, cooked our dinners, and like kings, loved prosciutto-wrapped-cheese-sticks with salt and vinegar taste almonds, courtesy of the sexagenarian birthday boys.
4-State-Problem? Or Not. (Sunday, October 1)
Sooner or later of their journey, any even mildly masochistic thru-hiker considers making an attempt the 4-State Problem – a 44-mile hike that begins in Pennsylvania, crosses into Maryland, traverses Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia, and ends simply throughout the state line in Virginia. You get up at 2 AM and hike till eight PM, strolling the space of an ultra-marathon in between.
In fact, I needed to do that, if not only for the bragging rights, then as an alternative for the information that I might, actually, push my physique to that excessive (however principally for the bragging rights). The drawback was that I might be coming off 7 days of mountaineering 20-25 miles per day with no break. And I knew that I might by no means forgive myself if I obtained injured whereas trying one thing so pointless.
Fortunately, my left calf actually began to harm after ten miles, and the choice was made for me. It was my physique telling me I wanted a break. I promptly hopped off path at Pen Mar Street and rented a room at a High quality Inn. Dominos delivered so quick that I used to be nonetheless within the bathe when my pizza and hen bites arrived. Coupled with a beer and pint of ice cream, I devoured it, forgetting all concerning the 44-mile beating I had virtually subjected myself to.
<Three Waynesboro (Monday, October 2)
<Three Waynesboro (Monday, October 2)
“Hiker-friendly” – a time period used to explain the cities that not solely accommodate hikers but in addition have inhabitants who’re usually considering and supportive of our scraggly bunch. My expertise of Waynesboro was very hiked-friendly.
I walked into the Brio cafe after testing of my lodge, able to spend a few hours updating my weblog. Upon getting into, a lady requested if I used to be a they-hiker and instantly paid for my espresso. Her identify was Daybreak, and she works on the town planning committee.
After sitting down for 5 minutes, one other lady spilled her full latte everywhere in the flooring. Feeling dangerous, I helped her clear it up. Twenty minutes later, she returned and insisted that I let her purchase me breakfast. I advised her that it was solely pointless, and that I already had meals. Even so, on her method out, she gave me a Starbucks present card from her pockets, encouraging me to get a espresso someplace additional down the path.
An hour later, two ladies walked in and requested if I used to be thru-hiking. Once I stated sure, one among them supply to drive me the 5 miles again to the path. She then invited me to take a seat together with her and her associates from Church and gave me a scrumptious muffin from the cafe. All three of them have been moms of 2-Three youngsters between the ages of 1 and 11. They shared hilarious tales about their kiddos that had me considering of my nephews and nieces again residence.
Earlier than Rhe drove me again to the path, I walked as much as the register and gave Three dollars, asking the barista to offer a cup of espresso to the subsequent one that got here in that couldn’t afford one. Waynesboro had already been so type to me – this was the least I might do to pay the city again.
After getting dropped off on the path, I crossed the Mason Dixon Line:
Goodbye, Pennsylvania! It’s been actual. All 264 miles. I hiked the primary 10 miles into Maryland and tented for the night time, content material to have completed the third longest state on the Appalachian Trail.
Maryland (Tuesday, October Three)
Though there have been solely 30 miles left of Maryland, they have been jam-packed with historical past. I ended off on the Washington Monument:
Within the second image, I’m sitting atop the monument, and the hen from the primary image simply glides overhead for a whereas, a mere 10-20 ft above me. Excitedly, I texted my mom concerning the bald eagle patriotically circling the monument, solely to understand later that it was a broad-winged hawk.
Coming down from the monument, I crossed a variety of Civil Struggle monuments, ruins, and even a few battlefields. There have been informative plaques and indicators that detailed the historical past of the battles and the pivotal roles they performed within the conflict.
Simply as I used to be heading to the final set of ruins earlier than the shelter – THWACK – I smashed my pinky toe on a jagged root. It HURT. I felt a bit silly that I wasn’t paying extra consideration, however I felt higher once I typed “Did I break my…” into google, and “toe” was one of many prime searches.
Toe throbbing, I skipped studying the small print of the previous few monuments and went straight to camp. And I discovered new Sobos! A pair from Boise, Cool Boi and Tinkerbell, together with Smalls from Australia and Sincerity, who simply wrapped up a yr of Americorps in Boston. With so many superior individuals in a single place, we had a large Sobo celebration, proper there within the shelter!!!
Simply kidding. Everybody was quick asleep by eight:30.
Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia (Wednesday, October four)
Everybody obtained up early, excited to spend the day in Harper’s Ferry. We hiked in the dead of night for about an hour, Cool Boi being type sufficient to clear the spider webs by going first. The Potomac seemed lovely because the fog lifted within the early hours of the morning:
The path goes proper into city, with Civil Struggle ruins scattered all through the streets together with mock shops lining Important Road. The path passes proper by a Church, Jefferson Rock, and a lovely cemetery.
I went to the ATC customer middle and took my midway photograph to enter into the ebook. I’m Sobo #149 to cross by means of! 149 is a prime quantity, which makes me glad. This wouldn’t shock you in the event you additionally knew that my wedding ceremony date (6.1.19) was chosen as a result of it is an ambigram (it has 180-degree rotational symmetry 🤗).
After exploring a bit, I spent the morning in a espresso store with actually gentle armchairs and the nicest rest room I’ve seen on the path. Then, resupply and again to the path for an additional 12 miles, together with:
Howdy, Virginia. I’ve heard a lot about you. 😏
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