In the Blink of an Eye
As I left Harpers Ferry, I couldn’t help but be excited. Psychologically, I was on a high because I knew the next state to tackle was West Virginia. It’s the shortest state to hike, and each state I complete is one closer to Maine.
Eternity is forever and that is how Virginia felt. Now West Virginia. I could compare West Virginia to my life, it’s nothing but a blink of an eye.
Thank you West Virginia for sharing your chirping birds, your gracious trail that allowed me to cruise on into Maryland.
My own Little Tricks
Many AT thru hikers have had to battle with rain and high humidity. Of course, this makes it hard to dry clothes, tents and sneakers.
As I was cooking one night, I decided to get creative and try to multitask. After all, the “Real world” often requires all of us to multitask in life. As I sat in my soggy tent, I started to boil water to make my amazing Ramon noodle smorgasbord. A thought came gushing into my little brain. I realized I could cook and dry laundry at the same time. I put my wet, yet river-rinsed undies on top of my cook pot. Something about this made me feel like a million bucks, the thought of dryness was beyond excitement! Creativity on the trail is what it’s all about.
As the rainy days disappeared, the heat has taken over. As I was hiking in 90-degree weather, I heard a few people expressing their not-so-kind words about the temperature. I listened, yet for me, I thought of it as a nice, hot sauna. My muscles were relaxed and for once, I didn’t have to try to stay warm.
It wasn’t until I arrived and set my tent up did the lightbulb go one. I thought, “Shoot how will I dry my sweaty clothes?” Too hot to dry them over my meal, so I began trying to problem solve. Problem of the night solved. My body heat was the solution, I had to wear the clothes until they dried. Yup, it’s gross but it works! I have decided to do whatever it takes to have dry clothes in the morning.
Maryland and Magic on the Trail
Crossing state lines bring a sense of success. Maryland was short and sweet, yet filled with surprises. As my full day of hiking Maryland was coming to an end a bag hanging on a tree caught my eye. It actually had my trail name on it, Laughingloon. As the white blaze led me to cross the road, I was overwhelmed with my own personal trail angel. Of course, she shared her coolers filled with food and drinks with other thru hikers, but she had my name on my own cooler. Our daughters had played soccer together many years ago and she unexpectedly became my angel. We chatted and laughed and ate yummy food. The departure ended with a hug.
A “Hug” may seem minimal but that is something I have missed terribly. So with that, thank you for your time, effort, food, and most of all, giving a sweaty, stinky thru-hiker a good ole hug!
I have been excited to do this trek for a very long time. Today was particularly amazing because I was able to put my pic in the same book that Grandma Gatewood did. She is an AT legend, and one of my heroes. She has inspired so many in so many ways. Though she is no longer traveling this trail, my hope is that someday I’ll meet Grandma Gatewood in heaven.
Pennsylvania, Pine Grove store halfway home
The feeling of trekking 1095 miles is surreal, it honestly feels like a dream. I’ve been on the trail 88 days, yet it seems like I just started. It’s hard to describe, but it is as though my brain has shut down. There is no business stirring, only calmness and peacefulness. Yet, every day is harder than any day of work that I’ve ever done. Thank you, Lord, for protecting so many that made it to Pine Grove, the official halfway mark.
There is something significant that happens at the general store in Pine Grove, it’s known as the half-gallon ice cream challenge. The goal is to see how fast the gallon can be eaten. I decided not to do the challenge since I still had quite a few miles to hike.
After consuming hot cooked camp food at the store, it came as a pleasant surprise to find that the AT travels to a beach. I thought to myself, “An actual body of water that I can fully submerge.” As I was searching for the trail, a park ranger walked with me. She asked, “ What has been your favorite part of the trail?” I quickly responded without hesitation, “This lake!”
The thought of bathing with my sweaty, stinky clothes on and cooling off made for a good halfway celebration. With that, she pointed to the lake and I felt like a kid in a bubble bath.
As I start the second half of this journey, it will be exciting to visit Pennsylvania and soon New Jersey.
For now, zipping myself into my cozy tent to rest my sore legs, I will close my eyes thinking of what a remarkable woman Grandma Gatewood was and how she still remains on this trail for so many.
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