Froggy Flip-Flops the AT: Chapter One
I stared up in disbelief. How the heck am I supposed to get up that? There were two huge rocks separated by a crack and stones in between that could be utilized as steps. But those stone steps were a good ten to 12 feet up. I still had to get up to them somehow. I sighed, stowed away my trekking poles, and took a deep breath. It was going to be one of those days. Again.
Rewind a Bit
I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to where it all started. Before the endless days of rock climbing and death descents. Before the knee pain, the hiker hunger, the self-doubt. Back when everything was all shiny and new.
Harpers Ferry and Maryland
Harpers Ferry was a bit overwhelming and kind of a blur. I couldn’t believe I was actually starting my thru-hike. That first week I met up with my trail brother, Shake N Bake, who I’m still hiking with now. I met a ton of hikers, mostly flip-floppers who started in Harpers and who were just as excited as I was to start this epic journey. I also received sweet trail magic in my first couple of days. Allie prayed for me and my journey and I was deeply touched by her kind words. I also received a ride to and from town for a resupply. Even though I offered gas money, they laughed and refused.
Oh, Pennsylvania and your horrid rocks. The first part of PA was actually nice. Lots of rolling hills and pastures, rhododendron tunnels, and beautiful shelters. I also finally saw an Eft, which was very exciting. Then came Lehigh Gap, which wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be, and Knife’s Edge, which was terrifying. Shake’s friends Jill and Al swooped in and saved us for a night, allowing us to do laundry and get showers, and took us for a resupply.
Please, eat at the Doyle. Their food is amazing and they love hikers, even if at first it’s tough love. And if you stay in Waynesboro, PA, call shuttle driver Roger; he is fantastic.
Five days of consecutive rain turned the trail into a river/pond, which made us grouchy, and pointy, stabby, awful rocks destroyed my shoes and tested my patience. Needless to say, I was excited to get out of Pennsylvania.
New Jersey and New York
New Jersey was beautiful! The woods had minimal undergrowth and tall, wispy grass swaying in the breeze. Plus, there was ridge walking with pretty views. We got trail magic of a doughnut in the middle of the New Jersey woods. Our tramily got bigger in Jersey. We wound up at the same shelters as Kool and Kats, and really enjoyed each others’ company. We wound up hiking together, and I dubbed us the Fearsome Foursome. Kats was doing a section, Harpers Ferry to Pawling, NY. He has already hiked from Pawling to Katahdin. Kool was doing a flip-flop hike like us. We laughed and commiserated together, and formed a tight bond quickly.
As soon as we crossed into NY it all turned to crap. There were so many huge rocks to climb up, over, down. What the heck, New York?!Nobody said anything about bouldering this early. I was exhausted that first day. The doubts and fears crept in. Could I do this? The Whites are so much harder than this. My first really bad day occurred in NY. Another ding; there were no privies, or bear boxes, and the water was super gross. However, I loved the delis. We stopped at all of them, I think. The best? Tony’s and the Appalachian Trail deli.
The Fingerboard Shelter
I didn’t want to stay at the Fingerboard Shelter. I had marked in my AWOL book there were bear problems here, so I was nervous about staying here. Plus, we were told by another hiker that the bear had been getting three to four food bags a night there. But honestly, the way the shelters were spaced and our mileage, we still ended up here. After a hard day, we slept great while it rained outside. I hung my Ursack far from the shelter and the boys hung their food bags as usual.
We woke to the boys’ food bags shredded and most of the food eaten or destroyed. My Ursack was clawed and bitten, but they weren’t able to get in it or remove it from the tree. I always over buy on food, so I had enough to help supplement the food the boys were able to salvage. I almost sent the Ursack home, but after this decided to keep it.
After all this craziness, I was definitely ready to get out of New York. Was this how it was going to be? Excited to get into the next state, only to get a few days in and already be tired of it and ready to leave? I guess the honeymoon stage is over. And I’m only a little over 300 miles in.
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