How a Terrible Time Made Us Blue(berry)
Everybody talks about Rocksylvania; they fear it and rightfully so. Thru-hikers dread each day for the rocky profile that they’ll inevitably face.
It Can’t be That Bad, Right?
Southern Pennsylvania was very pleasant. There were farmers’ fields, gentle slopes, and a continuation of Maryland and Northern Virginia terrain that kept you feeling confident.
Then it began to change. Sections of trail that were previously sparsely populated with small, smooth pebbles grew more and more spiteful toward our feet. At first you noticed the rocks were a little more pointed, more densely packed into the trail. Before you knew it, there were angular rock fields that jutted upward into your aching feet.
The Real Trail Blues
Virginia blues were nonexistent for most of our tramily. We enjoyed the changing scenery, the friendly hiker towns, and the more gently varied terrain. However, Pennsylvania left many of us worn down mentally by the continuous sore feet. Luckily, the benefit of a 12-person tramily is that there are plenty of opportunities to support one another through the good and bad. In turn, they support you when you need it most.
Then came the blueberries. It was the morning of July 5; our feet were tender from the rocky terrain of northern PA, and we had Lehigh Gap looming over us. Bubbles noticed a small patch of blueberries and, although I tried to advise her we had a long day ahead, she was already picking a handful of the ripe, plump, beauties.
If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them
I dropped my pack to grab a couple of berries. We noticed Nightingale a few feet ahead also picking berries with a burgeoning crop in a ziplock. We approached the bush he was working on and were shocked by the sheer quantity of fruit.
Plume was also busily harvesting the largest wild blueberries I’ve ever seen. She was giggling in delight as some berries didn’t even make it to her pot. They were fresh from a night of rain and the fruit shined in the misty morning light to us like beacons of hope.
Leave No Trace Vs Trail Fruit
Banter and Lady Di joined us as we all worked as if we were dependent on these berries. Although the idea of picking fruit along the trail may not be the most Leave No Trace principle, I believe the ATC allows it as long as you are only picking for personal consumption. Any hit of juice in a state as dry as PA is worth the time investment.
We smashed the climb over Lehigh Gap and had ample berries to snack on at the summit. Then, as I walked along the ridge, giggling along to replays of My Dad Wrote A Porno, I came across a plethora of black raspberries that begged to be added to my berry bag.
This day was wonderful, though I may have gotten the runs from day-old fermented berries, but that’s a different story for a different day…
Berries have become a pleasant treat on our journey through the humid and hot summer. The trail may be hard at every turn, but there’s always something to help you through.
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