Harper’s Ferry to Peekskill, NY: Having and Getting Over Pennsylvania Blues
Well, I’ve walked home to New York. I actually passed the start of my shakedown section on Friday en route to the agreed upon pickup spot, and it blew my mind. Now, I’m laying in my childhood bed after washing everything in my pack, trading in for new socks, and re-packing my down jacket for the colder times ahead. Within the next week I’ll be in Massachusetts, and then the real hard work begins in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. I’m actually really excited, though. I’m ready.
Pennsylvania was rough. Up until Duncannon all our spirits were high– we saw a play (actually a musical– Shout!) in Boiling Springs, and my former roommate Monica came for a weekend backpack visit. In Hamburg Click Clack, Beast, Six Strings and I shared a room at the super nice Microtel and visited the Cabela’s to gawk at the stuffed animals. North from Duncannon, Pennsylvania got harder. The trail turned into a boulder field, the water sources dried up, and we all came down with a serious case of the Pennsylvania Blues. People we knew were getting off trail for good, ticks were starting to become a very real issue, and caterpillars rained down on us (along with actual rain in crazy thunderstorms) by the hundreds. The last straw was hitting Wind Gap, and being supremely sketched out at the Travel Inn, to the point where I got no sleep, and a much needed town night became less relaxing than sleeping in my tent in the woods. The next morning I was in such a state of tired rage that I just hiked as quickly as I humanly could out of Wind Gap, unwilling to stop or talk to anyone, until I got to Delaware Water Gap. There, I started to feel sick, and spent the rest of the day sleeping in my tent behind the church hostel.
The next day, Beast was sick, and we did a short day out of DWG in advance of a thunderstorm. Although the rocks were still a very real presence in New Jersey (and are still in New York), it felt psychologically so much easier to be in New Jersey instead of Pennsylvania. Although I’ve never seriously thought about quitting, something about Pennsylvania just challenged me psychologically and Beast and I agreed that we were all having a mini-freak out by the time we hit DWG.
New Jersey was actually very pretty, though very wet and full of ponds, which made for mosquito-infested hiking, and soaked socks and feet. The terrain was mostly very easy, with a few scrambles up Boulder fields. Beast and I did a lot of hiking to town for lunches and dinners, since Click Clack and Six Strings were pushing bigger miles, and Beast had come down with a bad cold.
When we passed into NY, I felt so surreal. I’d section hiked much of the state before getting on trail, but it all looked and felt different somehow. Harriman State Park and especially Bear Mountain were beautiful! I’ve never appreciated how amazing the trail up to Bear Mountain and the tower is, with the stone steps and gravel trail. Hiking up was a complete pleasure.
Well, that’s all for now. I’ll be out of NY by Tuesday and pushing through Massachusetts by the Fourth of July!
Happy Summer Solstice!
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