Home is where you decide to keep hiking…

My last post was filled with a lot of emotion, most of it negative as a result of my frustrations with the trail and trail culture. But the great news is that I’ve hiked halfway (AKA home) and have decided that Katahdin is still on my 2016 to-do list. I knew blogging for App Trials was a good choice. In a time when I needed it most, I received countless positive and supportive comments from readers. To all that sent me good wishes (including Badger himself), I appreciate the good vibes and positivity you sent my way. It meant so much knowing that other hikers had my back and understood my struggles. You are all amazing people.

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Signs like these remind me that some people think hiking 2000 miles is crazy.

Virginia isn’t flat, but Maryland is!

The “Virginia Blues” are real and so is the “Honeymoon Period” mentioned in the book Appalachian Trials. I experienced them both and am sure that they contributed to the frustrations presented in my last post. Central Virginia was the toughest section I experienced on the trail so far. If you ever hear someone say “Virginia is flat”, punch them square in the face because they are telling you the most misleading lie ever. There are many 3000+ foot climbs and if you start NOBO late March or early April, you will also likely get your first excruciatingly hot days at the same time.

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Mary’s Rock in Shenandoah

Combined with the blues and the ending of my trail honeymoon, I wanted quit on a daily basis. I took a few days off to rest and think and ended home for several more days sick with a stomach bug. When I did get back on the trail in Shenandoah, I was fortunate to run into Yours Truly and Twix and hike with them through the Doah’s to Harper’s Ferry. These two provided the companionship and support I needed to feel happy and at home on the trail. Add in a few blackberry milkshakes and a luxurious dinner and stay at Big Meadows Lodge and you get the picture. The trail was back to being a comfortable and happy place for me.

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When we all finally found each other again at Hightop Hut.

Mentally Half-Way and Really Half-Way

Reaching Harper’s Ferry was unbelievably rewarding. If you are experiencing the Virginia Blues, this is the place where you will shake off that depression and feel like you have accomplished something worth talking about. Twix and I said goodbye to Yours Truly in Harper’s. It was sad, but she made the right decision for herself.

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The girls in Harper’s Ferry

The trail through Maryland was glorious and much flatter and easier than Virginia. I would have been sad to leave had I not crossed the Mason-Dixon into my home state of Pennsylvania. I’m fortunate to have supportive parents who live near the trail who slacked me several days and allowed me to take a week off to rest and recuperate before I continue hiking to Maine. Tomorrow I head back to “trail life” of carrying a full pack and sleeping in the woods. I’m slightly sad but optimistic to continue the journey I set out on way back in Georgia in March.

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My Dad and Lana celebrating getting to PA with me.

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Comments 4

  • Avatar
    Slack Packhiker : Jul 4th

    Seriously, you are amazing! I just jumped back to your previous post and read today’s blog.

    You are on target about the party crowd (how I hate ‘party’ has been misappropriated). I love that you have the fortitude to prevail in a mature manner through the hiker blues and negative crowd.

    The glorifying of ageing scene-ters sanctions the party crowd and sullies the trail rep. The smokers, the least of the problem, light up all along the trail in polluted clots, and every night in the shelters. Thoughtfulness stops at the trail head for these offenders. Their joy apparently comes from having a free pass from civil and legal constraints.

    So hike on. You’ve got what it takes to be successful on the trail and your attitude and clear headed mind will serve you well off the trail as well.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Chris : Jul 5th

    Fantastic news, Olivia! So glad to hear you are pressing on. You have a great well of resilience within you and a supportive family too. With that combination, nothing can stop you. Every bit of tribulation will be worth it when you stand on Katahdin! Hike on!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Mark Stanavage : Jul 8th

    Glad to see you’re going on. I can’t say I’ve had the party problems, but I can see where you’re coming from. I ignore them as much as possible. I smell funky smoke, I get my water and continue up the trail. Maybe trade over to a hammock. More places to set up, leaves no trace, and no mice! Happy for you that you found some new friends to help you on your way. This may be too late, please don’t underestimate the lack of water north of Lehigh!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Jeff Lanter : Jul 20th

    Go Olivia go! You are doing fantastic! I wish you fortune and good luck. I wish I could be there, but of course I have to work. You enjoy the trail for me too. Thanks for your blog.
    Jeff Lanter
    [email protected]

    Reply

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