A Little Silly, A Little Smelly, and A Little Crazy.


Leaving Delaware Water Gap (DWG) was hard. I didn’t realize how taxing the rocks from Pennsylvania were. My feet felt raw and my body felt drained from stumbling through the rocks. I could tell it was time to get new shoes, I could feel pain in my achilles tendons as well as my Posterior Tendon Tendonitis Dysfunction (PTTD) acting up (Of course the rocks would cause that to flair up). It didn’t realize how rough I still felt despite the time taken off with Dreamsicle’s family, a single zero day wasn’t enough to heal up and actually rest.

While the night before leaving DWG was filled with too much Sake and Japanese food. I was feeling good, while I may had had too many sake slushes and Japanese Karaage chicken bites. I felt ready to go on trail, perhaps after a giant dirty chai latte, but I was ready to enter the woods. Until Dreamsicle looked at me with wide eyes and told me he had left his trekking poles at the restaurant. His very nice and very expensive trekking poles.

It appears we were ‘sake silly’ last night and had left his trekking poles despite going back to rescue my charger and cables later. It appears we have let our game slip. In the past week we had manage to lose: Two head lamps, an iPhone cable, a travel towel, and now trekking poles.

I dont know if this is the price Pennsylvania demands from you to cross her injury free, but we had already misplaced a lot of important shit and I wasn’t going to let Pennsylvania take more from us.

Dreamsicle wanted to get on trail and didn’t want to inconvenience any of the other hikers or trail angels in town once he had realized his poles were gone. I on the other hand wasn’t letting PA win, so I asked around the hostel if any one could help us on their zero day. And to my surprise, everyone came forward. Fellow hikers offered, on their day off, to track down the poles and get them to us.  Many offered us spare poles or gear to get by on in the meantime.

It was so heart warming to see the community come together like that. No one felt inconvenienced or bothered, and to go so far as to offer us their own essential gear while they went out of their way to help us. In a world that feels so divided, it feels so refreshing and hopeful to watch a community of such diverse people come together to help one another.

Everyday that I get to be a part of this community makes my heart feel so full and hopeful for the kindness and generosity that we as humans can have for one another. It reminds me that we aren’t as divided as I once thought, despite the years of quarantine and social isolation as well as political and social differences, we look out for one another and our communities.

After being assured that the poles would be found and delivered to us, we got on trail, which was a shit show. It was hot and humid with a climb to start the day. I was stung by a wasp right above my ankle, which made hiking excruciating. I was unhappy with having to walk a 20-22 mile day. I was cranky, hurting, and tired (which seems to be my normal since it got hot).

But despite my foul mood and swollen ankle, it was an amazing day. We received trail magic of craft beer from Dreamsicle’s friend while sitting and watching the sunset at crater lake. We got to smoke cigars and wade in the lake while we watched a storm roll in. I got to watch fish nibble my toes and giggle. It was a great way to end a stunning day, as well as to remind me to not get caught up in the little things. To remember to let it go. That shit will suck and be uncomfortable, but it isn’t going to help to just stew on it, you have to let the hard stuff go if you want to enjoy it.


Wasps are rude. I was stung again while hiking and it wasn’t good. While I found out that I will not die from bee stings, my allergic reactions are getting worse. If a sat still for too long, the sites of the stings would swell and engorge to the point I couldn’t put my shoes on. While I walk, all I feel is constant burning. Burning itching levels of pain that over the counter medication wouldn’t reduce.

Thank God, I carry steroids for this exact reason, but I had been running low. I only had 30 mg of Prednisone left, enough for 3 doses to relieve some of the swelling. While bee allergies run in my family, I am lucky that I haven’t developed an adverse reaction until now.

This is now my first big injury on trail, an unexpected complication to insect stings. Not any of the normal trail injuries one would expect. I’m not going to lie, I was distressed at seeing how swollen and tender my feet had become. I didn’t want to make a big deal about my pain to Dreamsicle, we were trying to stay on schedule as my friend was coming into town, but I couldn’t keep walking. We had barely done 10 miles and my ankles kept swelling and burning. The stings had become itchy, hot, and puffy. I had checked to see if the stinger was still stuck in my skin, but it hurt to badly to try to touch the welts.

I had to make my miles count, since I only had 3 doses of medication and no access to anything to cool the stings, I had to get to water. I knew their was a stream in a few miles that perhaps I could soak my feet to reduce swelling. It was going to suck to get there, but what other options did I have; stop and watch what happens or keep moving to the next best spot and hope it doesn’t get worse in the meantime.

Well, it got worse. Dreamsicle found me at the stream soaking my ankles and even he was concerned. I think something a long the lines of “Oh shit! Why didn’t you tell me!” Was said in regards to the massive amount of swelling. I decided then and there, I wasn’t walking any further for my well-being and safety. We were fortunately near a shelter that was only a half mile from a road in case my condition worsened.

Guys, do not camp at the Gren Anderson Shelter. It is not because it is a bad shelter or the privy is bad. No, it is because it is right next to the road and rude, loud, and ignorant day hikers love to hang around this spot. Multiple thru hikers have had issues with locals vandalizing their gear or just being down right obnoxious. While we were there, a group of 13 Scouts spent the entire afternoon and evening screaming at each other and terrorizing the other campers.

Now, I don’t want to have to be angry and lecture children, but I ended up having to get my grumpy lady on. I was in pain and the Scouts were down right rude. I typically try to avoid large groups of backpackers (especially when the average age of the group is under 15), but I don’t mind sharing the trails with them. I encourage the youth to get outside and recreate responsibly in the woods.

Notice how I say “recreate responsibly”. I get it, they are young and their brains haven’t fully developed. They are just doing kid stuff, but for all that is holy, teach your spawn to have some general respect in the woods. That while screaming may deter the bears, your tenting neighbor isn’t going to like you.

Be kind, be courteous. You are sharing the woods with everyone, it isnt just you out here. In the end I may have traumatized some children with a scolding.


After a night of some peace and minimal quiet, my ankles were better. They weren’t great, but they were better. Which was fine because my friend, Millie, was picking us up and taking us off trail for a nero and zero. I had reasoned with myself that I could make another 10-15 mile day if the swelling had gone down over night. Thank God it had. While the stings still burned and itched, my swelling had slightly improved. I still couldn’t see my ankle bones, but I could get my shoes on.

We pushed out of the shelter and to the New Jersey High Point as quickly as possible. The day was hot and sunny and mostly uneventful. I think we were both tired from spending the night at a noisy shelter and from worrying about my ankles. We both were looking forward to getting to a town and out of the heat.

We made it quickly to the NJ High Point Monument, a massive obelisk on top of a hill. We walked the short steep side trail and found Millie sleeping in her car. As is part of the gremlin code, I scared her awake. It was a adrenaline filled reunion with my dear friend as we dragged them up the monument.

While the NJ high point monument is cool to see from a distance, it isn’t worth the hundreds of steps to the top to peer out grubby windows. The views from the courtyards surrounding the large stone obelisk are much better. Being able to see all the different towns and mountains you will climb is both stunning and daunting. Beautiful in their breath taking glory.

We spent the rest of the day exploring the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York wilderness in the luxury of a air conditioned car. It was a blast getting to take the day off, knowing that we had a zero day planned in the morning.

We have been taking more breaks due to the proximity of family and good trail towns. It has been a treat and a luxury as we are wearing down more. As we approach 1400 miles, our bodies feel like they are wearing down more. We have found out more hikers are taking longer extended breaks from hiking due to injury and fatigue from the harder conditions.

It was great for my friend to come all the way out to the North East from Nebraska to come visit me. It was such a moral booster. I knew I had missed home and my friends, I didnt realize how much I missed them. It felt good to have a little bit of home out here to see me and catch me up on all that I have missed.

It is so tempting to want to get off sometimes. I feel like the thought is always on the back of your mind, that you can stop hiking and get off trail whenever you want. You aren’t obligated or being forced to do this, you can just stop. I can feel it more on days that suck, cold and wet or hot and grueling. You just want to be done and do something thats easier and mofe comfortable. Be somewhere that doesn’t make you work for it constantly. Be some where were that doesn’t make you face your fears, push your tolerance. Somewhere comfortable.

It is still hard allowing yourself to take time and breaks away from the trail. We are so close to the end, it just feels like you should be sprinting to the end. You feel obligated to be out their everyday, grinding away the miles come rain or shine. I still feel self conscious of my milage and how far I have come compared to other hikers. I still feel a sense of inadequacy. I know the grind mentality is unsustainable, with the extreme weather and harder terrain (glares at the rocks) your body can’t keep up and it is hard mentally. Old habits die hard.

It was good to take the day off. We went to investigate the town of Warwick, you know to make sure it is hiker approved. Based upon our investigation of the Pennings Farm Cidery and historic downtown, Dreamsicle, Millie, and I give it a golden seal of approval. We had a great time running around the farmers market and sampling the ciders at the cidery. We found an amazing ferment shop, Drifter Ferments, that sold the best sandwich any of us ever had, a peanut butter Kimchi sandwich. We all dream about that sandwich and how perfect it is.

It was a slow and easy zero day. We were lucky to have the luxury of a car, so our walking was minimal. It was nice not having to rush around a town on tired legs, trying to be as quick as possible to attempt to maximize rest.

We ended up going to see Splash and Titus at their campsite and had dinner with them. It was great to see them and hang out. Millie had a blast meeting fellow thru hikers and learning of all the hijinks that happens on trail. It was a fun and silly night, as Dreamsicle and I almost became parents to a stray kitten we had found.

It is these kinds of nights that make me grateful for all of those who have allowed me a space in their lives. That I get to share these treasured happy moments with them. I am so thankful for those dear friends and newly found family that I have out here, even if we are a little silly, a little smelly, and a little crazy.


As I begin to become more decrepit, I have started singing the song “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” as I walk. Why? Because those are all the things that hurt.

We decided to have Millie slack pack us 22.6 miles, so we could “catch up” for the week. Due to the multiple “short” days in a row we wanted to get a longer day. I’m glad for the decision as the heat began to rise as the heat wave was upon us. The section we chose to slack pack got us through the rest of New Jersey. We walked on the infamous New Jersey board walk, over exposed wetlands with interesting waterfowl and lots of day hikers

It was hot. The heat wave hitting the trail was just beginning to start. Even with lighter packs, we were melting under the bright sun and minimal shade. There was a point that despite how much water we drank, we felt thirsty and slow, an indication of not enough electrolytes.

Despite the grueling heat, we managed to cover the miles quickly, until we got to the “Stairway to Heaven”. I have quickly learned that when the locals have a name for sections of trail, it typically means I am going to suffer. These areas are never flat or easy sections of trails. No, these sections of trails are what locals take their out of town friends or children on to “build character”. None of these little named sections are called “The Sunday Stroll” or “The Promenade”. No they are called “The Roller Coaster” or “Jacob’s Ladder” and I am dragging my ass up one of the steepest hills created for the amusement of the locals watching.

After Dreamsicle convinced me to not quit and call Millie to grab us before The Stairway to Heaven. I struggled my way up with minimal bitching and moaning. I will admit it was an amazing view, we were able to see the NJ high point and all of the ridges and valleys we had walked during the day. Looking down on the past 22 miles we had walked during the day. Seeing the distance that we had covered over the entire day impressed upon me the significance of what I am doing. How hard and impressive this is.


What the actually hell New York. I thought you were supposed to be nice. I thought you were supposed to be the breath of fresh air we earned from Pennsylvania, a break from the rocks and sore feet. Oh no! There is now rocks AND hills. Not just ankle breakers, but exposed cliffs and steep hills with ankle breakers. Breath stealing steep cliffs that are filled with day hikers. What the hell New York. Despite being filled with delis and road stops, I do not appreciate the sass you are giving me.

Even though New York has presented more physically challenging trail, I have enjoyed it… Thus far. It has been a treat walking through Dreamsicle’s home state and sections of trail he has already walked. It is comforting knowing what is ahead and some of the history of the area (It is nice being informed about the area as you bitch at it).

A long this section of the NJ/NY trail you cross a Drive in Movie theater, a creamery, and Bear Mountain. We have been blessed with trail magic a long the way, from friends, family, and supporters (Thank you Vicky, Denise, and Tentman). It has been fun getting to another state.

All these exciting mile markers have been creeping up on us, especially Bear Mountain. Due to the recent flooding, the the Bear Mountain section of trail has been shut down to protect day hikers and visitors from the fragile flood destroyed trail. Earlier we had talked to multiple trail maintainers of the Bear Mountain section who said thru hikers would be fine to hike. I am so glad we ignored the closures and listened to maintainers.

It was amazing to have such a busy day hiker section to ourselves. It was amazing ignoring the 2023 reroute and staying on the old trail. It was just an absolutely amazing section of trail.

There was absolutely no one on this section of trail. No thru hikers or day hikers. No angry dogs or kids. It was just so nice not having dodge children or trying not to set Karens off. It was so strange to be in such an empty piece of trail, it’s so calm and quiet. It was such a treat being able to just sit on a bench on Bear Mountain and enjoy the view.

Even though it was amazing and the views were breath taking, the climb was a lung burner. My legs, knees, and butt were screaming. I was screaming. It was striking to see the chains of hills we had just climbed and the mountains surrounding the Hudson Valley.

Today I realized that I think I am recovering from my burnout from COVID and higher education. I didn’t realize how sick the burnout made me, how disinterested in living I had become. Thinking about the future, my future, caused panic attacks that spiraled into an existential crisis. I felt that I had nothing more I could contribute to a career, my relationships, or even towards my personal growth.

I no longer feel so emotionally drained that I can barely function. So depressed or anxious that I can hardly focus on basic tasks. For the first time in a very long time, I feel alive. It sounds cheesy, but I finally,I feel like I have purpose. That I have the ability to succeed in all aspects of my life and that by completing this trail, I am doing something for the first time in my life that is only for me. I am not doing this to prove I am better than others or for the attention. I am doing this to heal. It feels amazing to finally feel the pieces of myself begin to mend, to finally feel whole.


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Comments 2

  • Richard : Aug 1st

    New England just around the corner! Can’t wait to see you and Dreamsicle cruising through the north. New Hampshire and Maine are challening, but so inspiring (if that’s the right word). Hoping to see you guys in the last two states. #teamlucky

  • thetentman : Aug 1st

    You are doing fine. The honesty is refreshing. I got stung 16 times one day by Hornets.

    Watch out for skeeters and get a headnet.



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