The Pennsylvania Pouts: Trail Update Seven

Before heading out to the Appalachian Trail, I had heard all about the Virginia Blues from former hikers and general trail word of mouth: hundreds of miles in the same state would apparently wear me down. Well, I’ve experienced not a second of Virginia Blues. Instead, I’d like to introduce the Pennsylvania pouts. We only have 60-something miles left in the state, but it’s felt like slow going, and given my trail family has spread out in the past days, it seemed like the right time for an impromptu vacation weekend in Pottsville to regroup and get excited about hiking again. (Not that I’d stop. But the past week felt much more like work than previous months have.)

What’s Going on with Pennsylvania? (A Detailed List of Gripes)

The rocks. Everywhere. Eeeeeeevrywhere, especially when I thought they’d stopped for a while.

Mud, mud, and more mud, given all the flat sections where water pools.

Consistently 88-90 degree days in the afternoon, which make for hot hiking.

People (i.e., day hikers) seem to be less friendly on the trail.

Hearing about trail magic from other people but always showing up at the wrong time!

Tiny bugs flying right around my eyes all the time. The choice is either wearing sunglassses all the time (too dark to see all the rocks) or getting unwelcome visitors right when I’m climbing up a hill.

So many snakes!

The trail goes through or near several sad, rundown coal towns, and you can see how nice some of the buildings used to be.

Post offices are open at strange hours or close early, so it’s stressful to schedule package pickups.

I react strongly to the mosquito bites here and have huge bumps.

Reasons I Am Staying Positive

I’ve got great snacks from my friends’ resupply boxes to enjoy!

Less than 100 miles until I’m done with Pennsylvania hiking.

Pottsville has an awesome B&B, fun thrift stores, and $3 pints at the Yuengling brewery.

I’m writing this in a cute coffee shop with books as décor, a working typewriter, and all the other trappings of a proper café. The only thing missing is oat milk.

Looking forward to hiking Machu Picchu after finishing in August!

Reminding myself how fortunate I am to have six months to explore and spend as I choose.

Still not a single blister or foot problem after 1,200+ miles.

Only 958 miles left, which feels like such a manageable size at this point.

I have heard it’s possible to get so many mosquito bites one’s body stops reacting, so perhaps there is hope?

After over half the trail, I finally got a new hiking outfit and feel extremely clean. Plus, my awful tan will start to even out now.

I will get to see my NYC skyline in a few days, and hopefully we’ll catch some epic July 4th fireworks.

Before starting my hike, I decided that I would not stop unless there were some kind of medical problem bad enough to take me off the trail. Not having an option to quit has been freeing on low days, since I can only move forward. Overall, I am still pleased that after nearly 90 days, only a handful have felt mentally tough. Physically, plenty of climbs have tired me out, but I guess my mind is more stubborn than I thought. I’m looking forward to some midday swim breaks, gorgeous scenery as I get farther north, and seeing friends and family along the NY, CT, and VT sections. Here’s to a fresh start tomorrow and an end to PA in a few days!

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Comments 2

  • Avatar
    Alex : Jun 29th

    How have you managed to not get blisters?!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Mark Stanavage : Jul 2nd

    Tisk! Hertzline campsite has a deep springfed clear clean pond. On a hot day, hitting the rope swing and taking the plunge, is a pure joy! Pennsylvania is wonderful, you just have to respect it and watch where you step. Enjoy the rest of your hike.

    Reply

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