One Month In: Jersey, Musings, and a Spork
I have been on the Trail for almost a month now! April 22 seems like a decade ago. I will hit my one-month trail anniversary in a few days and I want to get some musings out of my head, so this will be a little different than my usual updates.
But first, update
The best part of this past week was walking out of Pennsylvania!!!
I was so ready to be out of Rocksylvania, so ready to be able to clinch that coveted 2-states-down status, so ready to say goodbye to the feet-and-ankle-torturing rocks, that I hiked the last 37 miles of PA in two days. Being a flip-flopper who had only been on the trail for 3 weeks at that point, hiking a 17 mile day and then a 20 mile day was a little rough. The last 15 miles felt like a solid 15 miles of rocks. I was dead tired by the time I got to Delaware Water Gap, but I made it out of PA and celebrated with a chocolate milkshake!
After a great stay at Church of the Mountain Hostel (great folks, great hospitality!), I walked into New Jersey!!!
I have been in love with the Trail in Jersey! There is a lot of variety. From ridgeline walks to boardwalks, there have been some beautiful sights. Although the rocks did stick around for a little while, they at least seemed to jump out of the way for my feet, instead of the PA rocks that seemed to purposefully reach up and stab my feet.
In all fairness, though, I did experience some great hospitality in PA! Friends and hostels and generosity were abundant and amazing, so I have to give PA that!
The temperatures this week have been WARM. Too warm for my liking, but all you can do is hike smart: steady pace, not over-exerting, and drinking plenty of water and electrolytes. I chose to wake up early and get most of my hiking in early, then either took a break in the afternoon for a good hour or called it a day. I survived the heat and only experienced a mild headache the one night, although I was exhausted. I am excited for temps in the 70s again!
I have seen quite a bit of wildlife this week, though not any bears yet, which Jersey is supposed to be famous for on the Trail. But I have seen some cool birds, including scarlet tanagers and a black-and-white warbler. I saw several snakes and a leopard frog, and one of the yellow warblers (don’t know what species, I’m terrible with warblers, plus there’s like a bajillion of them). Last but not least, I saw the tiniest fawn I have ever seen! He was wandering around beside the trail and then hunkered down in the brush to wait for mom to come back. He was still wobbly on his skinny legs!
Before I started my hike, I was all about saving money. I told myself I wouldn’t stay in town, I wouldn’t eat out that much, and I would save money as much as I could. This is a good goal to have, no doubt.
Then I started my hike.
I quickly realized that while saving money is a good thing, I also need the opportunity to feel like a human being again. Being able to take a shower, launder my clothes, eat real food, charge my devices, and sleep in a real bed without having to worry about mice chewing up my gear, bears stealing my food, and porcupines chewing up the shelter during the night, is a necessary morale booster. Not that I am going to go overboard and spend a ton of money on town stays, but in order for me to keep hiking, I need to treat myself every so often.
There is a saying on the Trail: “Take care of the Trail and the Trail will take care of you.” It’s called Trail karma.
Today was a good example.
I had three more miles to hike to the road where I was getting picked up for a stay in town. I came upon a hiker who had stumbled and possibly sprained his ankle. He wrapped it in an Ace bandage and tried to keep hiking but was definitely struggling. I offered him my trekking poles and then offered to carry his backpack to the next road crossing for him, which fortunately was only 0.3 miles away.
Now, being me, I hate making two trips for anything. So instead of taking my pack to the road and then coming back for his, I carry my pack and his to the road crossing in one trip. Oh the stubbornness of me.
We reach the road crossing, which again fortunately is actually a good-sized road, not a backcountry gravel road that only has a few cars on it every day. We ask some local people if they can give him a ride to the nearest motel, which they graciously agree to do. After collapsing from exhaustion for a few minutes, I keep hiking.
I have been using a Wendy’s frosty spoon for my meals and had seen others with these awesome titanium sporks with extra long handles that reach all the way into a Mountain House bag. I always thought it would be nice to have one. I even considered buying one eventually.
As I hike on, there is a titanium long-handled spork lying on the side of the Trail.
I’ll try to find the owner, but I’m pretty sure God wanted me to have that spork for being a Good Samaritan today.
As always, as I’m constantly reminded on the Trail, God is good.
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