Boosting the Ole Morale
Let’s be real. Ever since Maine, I have been having some morale issues. While everyone was talking about how cool it was to be out on the trail, I was just wishing I could go home and watch Netflix in my bed, especially when I was bruising my tailbone every day in Maine. However, as soon as I got to PA, it hit me: I’m almost halfway! I’ve now gone 971 miles.
Knowing I am almost over that halfway hump feels so good. I can actually see a light at the end of the tunnel. I also made some changes to help boost my morale. While I was reading Appalachian Trials (the book) in my tent one night, I realized I wanted to be more of a floater instead of hiking with the same group all the time. In the book, Zach talks about how hiking the AT is just for you, so you should do it exactly how you want to. I realized I want to have the freedom to do only 20 miles instead of the 25 my group is doing when I’m exhausted one day, the freedom to sit out the four-state challenge when my group wants to hike over 40 miles in 24 hours, the freedom to stay in a motel when my group wants to tent. So I started hiking with different people instead of confining myself to one group. I spent a few nights at shelters with a couple named Up In the Air and Gravity and with a girl named Magellan. We all hiked a mile off trail one morning to a diner for breakfast and laughed when Magellan and I were embarrassed about ordering two breakfasts each. After breakfast, I hiked about 17 more miles with Magellan to the Mohican Outdoor Center. On our way, we were talking and hiking when Magellan suddenly stopped and began backing into me. I said, “What? What’s going on?” and then I saw it: a little rattlesnake right on the trail. Magellan had almost stepped on it. We ended up just walking around it.
Another day, I hiked with a guy named Brandon (he doesn’t like trail names), who is terrified of snakes and the South. I feel like I have been much more social now that I am not hiking in one group, and it has really boosted my morale to meet new people.
Today I am happy. I have a dingy but pleasantly private hotel room, I got a ride into town to go to Red Robin (I said, “Give me the largest pumpkin pie shake you have.”), and I went to the largest Cabela’s store in America, where there were many fine specimens of taxidermy.
I also found out that when I get to Maryland, I will get to see two close friends (shoutout to Rebecca and L Munny), which I know will make me so happy. And you know what? Pennsylvania has been refreshingly flat, despite the rocky terrain. It’s a good day for America, and I’m happy to be on the AT.
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