Harpers Ferry (June 13)

Tonight I am bothered by the bugs for the first time since I began the trip.  I think that is pretty darn lucky.  I’ve had over two months relatively bug free.

I try to sleep on the screened in porch here at the Blackburn AT center, but the bugs are wily here.  The mosquitoes and no see ums squeeze through.  Finally I just set up my tent on the porch.  Nothing beats having that fine mesh refuge to retreat to when you need it!

Unfortunately the bugs are still alive in the morning.  The other hikers are feeling it too, slapping and cursing through breakfast.  I pace around while I eat and wonder if this means I have to keep moving all the time now.  What a drain.  I eat a big breakfast to prepare!  I ask the other hiker who slept on the porch how he was able to stand it.  He wasn’t too bothered.  He believes biting bugs gravitate more to women.  I hope that’s a falsehood.  He also treated his clothes with permethrin spray.  I plan to look into that.

Dealing with hoards of mosquitoes out here was one of my biggest dreads.  Fortunately, since I’ve written this, the bugs haven’t been as bad.  They must be gravitating towards the men.

Today is the day I hike to Harpers Ferry, the “psychological halfway point on the AT”, as they say.  The literal halfway point is further north in PA.  The hiker tradition is to have your photo taken at the AT center here.  Then you can slide it into the year’s album and peer at all the hikers who have passed through before you.  I only recognize a few- I guess most of the hikers I’ve known have yet to pass through here.

These hiking milestones are always interesting.   Earlier this week I passed the 1000 mile mark.  It’s the kind of thing that I find nearly impossible to grasp.  All I’ve been doing is hiking all day for many days and somehow it’s starting to add up.

It once felt like a very long day to hike all day.  Now it’s my norm, a simple, predictable routine.  As they say, “Time flies when you’re having fun!”  Time flies when you adjust to something new and grow to enjoy it.

It’s inevitable that being here reminds me that this trip will end.  As much as I’m looking forward to spending more time with family and friends, I know it will be an adjustment to live off trail again.  But then again, as former thru hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis said, the things that help you complete the trail will also help you find your way after the trail.

So here I am, halfway.  Not ready for the adventure to be over- and lucky me, it’s not!  Who knows what this second half will bring.  Onward.

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