1500 Miles and Hitting Halfway
I’ve made it to Pine Grove Furnace State Park, the “official” halfway point of the AT. For me, it’s just over 1500 miles in. This is where I would talk about the gastrointestinal distress brought on by consuming a half gallon of ice cream, except that the general store is closed on weekdays after Labor Day.
Fortunately, I’ve found myself lucky enough that trail family is a thing and Whitewalker and Gandalf made a trek to town for ice cream for me, That Guy, Insect, and Stumbledorf. We don’t get the souvenir wooden spoon, but we don’t have to do a full half gallon and risk puking either.
Pennsylvania is not the rock pit that the Nobos have made it out to be – hopefully someone finds their bodies in New Hampshire and Maine when they die from a real rock overdose. Yes, there are rocky sections here. Fortunately they have been countered by flat terrain and gravel roads in between the rocky parts. Since the Darlington Shelter just south of Duncannon, Pennsylvania has been easy hiking. Pennsylvania has also been a respite from the mosquitoes and “Left Eye Flies”- the gnats that divebomb only the left eye. I can only guess that Nobos encounter the “Right Eye Fly” as they hike in the opposite direction.
Sobos have a unique predicament that the Nobos do not face- a lack of other thru hikers. That Guy and I have hiked three or four days straight without encountering another Sobo, but halfway from Maine we’ve started to meet up with familiar faces almost daily.
On to the last ones
It’s crazy to think that I only have one “big” state left – Virginia. Maryland and West Virginia are only 2-3 days of hiking combined. Even with one big state, there’s still a quarter of the trail left and a return to the cooler temperatures from spring. The breeze and fall colors will be a welcome change from the sub-1500 foot hills and heat of the past months. I’m hoping that the change in weather puts some more energy in my steps!
At this point in my hike, I’m tired. I also realize I’ve come a long way in my endurance. I looked back in my journal where I had written about being proud of hiking 12 miles in Georgia including a town stop. Now I regularly churn out 20 mile days with time for breaks left over.
I anticipate about 6 weeks left in my adventure and the end point, an ice cream shop in Damascus, feels a little more real every day. It’s no Katahdin, but I’m glad for the bonus experiences I’ve gotten hiking both northbound and southbound as I hike home toward Tennessee.
If you’d like daily updates from my hike as I head into fall and back up into the southern mountains, check out my Instagram.
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