Day 72, 7/9/23
US Route 40 to Falls Creek Tent Site
19.2 miles, mile 1,067.8
It was oh so sad saying goodbye to Buck and Baby and Uncle Ryan this morning. It was beyond amazing to have a place to sleep and yummy food to eat. I’m reminiscing on delicious chicken and venison and fresh veggies as I’m eating my instant mashed potatoes out of a bag for dinner. Today felt a lot longer than 19.2 miles with almost 30lbs on my back with a five-day resupply and two liters of water. Thankfully, it’ll just get lighter as I eat. Early this morning we met a trail runner who is heading to NH to do a section of the AT, and he knows a lot of people that I do from the couple sunrise hikes I went on. His name is Cloud Splitter, and he owns a coffee company. He hiked the NH 48 in ten days. Yes, TEN DAYS. He was great to talk to and I’ll have to give his coffee a try! We continued on and it started to thunderstorm pretty bad around 1:30 p.m. It completely soaked us and was pouring for about an hour and a half.
I managed to avoid getting poisoned with gluten by Uncle Ryan, and then I poisoned myself with a granola bar. The brand makes a raspberry flavored gluten free fig type bar; at the grocery store I saw the same brand and a blueberry fig bar, so I grabbed it. After I ate it, I started to not feel good about two hours after and puked on the side of the trail a couple times, but now I’m okay. The blueberry one isn’t gluten free but the raspberry one is, apparently. I wasn’t careful enough. I can’t assume that a brand does everything gluten free. So funny how I avoided getting glutened last night, but somehow did today. After I puked a couple times, we saw a huge snake slithering along. The rocks were treacherous after it rained, and man are there a lot of rocks near the end of Maryland. We made it into Pennsylvania and are camped down by a stream. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get some sleep tonight in my tent when I got used to a nice comfy bed again.
Day 73, 7/10/23
Falls Creek Tent Site to Quarry Gap Shelter
19.8 miles, mile 1,087.6
Today was our first full day in PA. I surprisingly didn’t sleep horribly last night. I definitely didn’t sleep great, but a little better than I thought I would. My initial thoughts of southern PA is that it’s relatively easy in comparison to what we had the first half of the trail. The trail went through two state parks today; the second one had a river flowing through and a pool! It was later in the day and we still had 2.2 miles to go, so we didn’t bother paying for the pool, but we went up to our thighs in the river. The state park labeled the last 2.2 miles as “most difficult,” which made me laugh, being from NH. I have a feeling PA “most difficult” is different from NH’s definition. It certainly was steep in the beginning, but nothing worse than we’ve hiked before. I was excited for this shelter because of the comments on the FarOut app saying it was so adorable and well taken care of. When we got there, it was super crowded with more thru-hikers than we have ever seen at a shelter. We did find spots to set our tent up though, thankfully. There was a welcome gate, flowerpots, picnic tables, games, and two wooden tent platforms. The privy had toilet paper in it too! That has never happened before. It was by far the most adorable shelter on trail. We will hit the official halfway point tomorrow!
Day 74, 7/11/23
Quarry Gap Shelter to James Fry Shelter
24.7 miles, mile 1,112.3
We are officially closer to Mt. Katahdin than Springer Mountain! It felt so good to hit that halfway marker. We ended up hiking further than we anticipated today, but the elevation was minimal (2,800 feet of gain) in comparison to what we have been doing, so it didn’t feel as hard. About 17 miles into the day, we got to the Pine Grove Furnace Store, which is where the infamous half-gallon challenge is. The half-gallon challenge is a tradition where thru-hikers eat a half-gallon of ice cream to celebrate being halfway done with the trail. I had absolutely no intention of participating in this because I would probably puke everywhere. I was planning on doing a pint, but when we got there it turns out they were completely out of ice cream! They did have some that you could get a scoop of, so I got two scoops of coconut ice cream, which hit the spot. It was yet another very hot day, so ice cream was welcome – in appropriate quantities. Then we continued on another half mile to the lake where there is a beach in the state park. It felt so amazing to go swimming there and rinse off all the sweat and dirt from the last three days. The beach was very crowded and we got some interesting looks as we walked up with our packs and trekking poles and went right in in our clothes. After our swim, we booked it the last seven miles up to the shelter without taking a single break, which if you know me, you know I love my breaks. There are only a couple other people at this shelter, which is always nice when it was so crowded last night. Tomorrow is a weird gap with shelters and tent sites, it seems we might need to push 26 miles or get lucky with finding a stealth site.
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