Halfway Home

When I left Port Clinton, PA, I was slated to hit Duncannon on a Sunday, which wasn’t going to work, because I had mail waiting for me there, and I couldn’t get it till Monday. I didn’t want to stay in Duncannon, so I slowed down to reach town Monday morning. I did a ten-mile day out of Port Clinton and stayed at the Eagles Nest shelter. All night I could hear a dog howling and a man singing at the top of his lungs. I assumed they were camping nearby, but the next morning I woke up early and saw no sign of anyone nearby. I’m half convinced the man and his dog were ghosts.

Two nights later, there was a long stretch without a shelter, so I had to camp. When I went to set up my tent that night, one of the two poles snapped. I looked down at it, stunned, and placed the two broken ends together, trying to will them to mend. Realizing my pole was broken for good and I was fifteen miles from a shelter, I burst into tears. I cried until I couldn’t see, a crumpled ball on the forest floor. After a few minutes of grieving for my broken pole, I tried to duct tape it back together. That didn’t work, because the pole bent right through the tape, ripping it. I set up my tent with one pole, cooked my dinner, and went to bed in the sad structure I had thrown together. Luckily it didn’t rain that night. After I got in my tent, I saw two headlamps approaching. It was Gonzo and Brandon. I knew Brandon and was so excited to see a familiar face. The next day I found a spot that had cell service,  and I had my mom order me a new tent because mine was a discontinued model, so the pole likely couldn’t be replaced. I slept at Clarks Ferry shelter and went into Duncannon the next morning.

I had heard Duncannon was a really sketchy town, but when I walked down High Street, there were all kinds of cute old ladies sitting on their porches, which were decked out with vinyl leaves and Halloween decorations. As I passed, one old lady wished me luck on my hike and said, “God be with you.” Another old man watering his flowers offered to give me directions before I even asked. When I got to the post office, I picked up my box of winter gear and a package from my friend Camille. Camille had loaded the box full of cookies and food, so I didn’t need to resupply. I crammed everything into my pack and headed out.


Duncannon residents are serious about their lawn bears.

That night I slept at a Super 8 that was a short walk from the trail. I had a huge bed and a tv to myself, and there was a diner right across the street. I ate a burger with ham on it (!!!!) And some peanut butter pie and went back to my room to watch Friends. The next day I had myself a continental breakfast (!!!!) and hit the trail. Tuesday night I had to camp in my broken tent again, but this time I tried to splint the pole with a stick. It broke the stick, but I just added another stick, and it worked well enough. Wednesday morning I walked through Pine Grove Furnace State Park, home of the half-gallon challenge, but the store was closed, so I couldn’t do the challenge. Also, it was eight in the morning and really cold, so a half gallon of ice cream did not seem that appealing to me, which is rare. On my way out of the park, I ran into This Is It, and we stayed at the Rocky Mountain shelter that night. The next day we ran into Puck at the Mason-Dixon line, and then This Is It and I stayed at the Free State hostel, where we did laundry and ordered enough pizza for dinner and breakfast. It was glorious.


Aaaand the Potomac.

The next day I slept at the Ed Garvey Shelter and went into Harpers Ferry in the morning. This had been a week of straight 25-mile days to meet up with my friends Becky and Lisa, who live in DC, by the weekend. I had planned to take the train into DC, so I bought a piece of peanut butter cake and a loaf of pumpkin chocolate chip bread and ate it all while waiting for the train. I then heard some people saying the train had been delayed eight hours. I called Amtrak, and they confirmed the the frustrating news. I then called my friend Lisa, who drove an hour and a half to pick me up and take me back to DC.


Me, Becky, and Lisa in DC.

We met up with Becky and went to dinner and then to the monuments at night. The next day, I went to church with them, which was awesome because I hadn’t been in over two months, and it felt so good to be there. I wore my crocs and running tights, while everyone else wore skirts, but I felt perfectly welcome.


Rocking the crocs at church.

After church and lunch, we sat on the porch for a while and then Becky drove me back to Harpers Ferry, where I enjoyed some free food at the ATC and had my picture taken for the book.


I have about 1000 miles left to go, and I think I’m really going to like Virginia. I even have my new tent! I have been loving the crisp, cool feel of fall, and I can see a light at the end of this tunnel. On to the South!

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