Shenanigans, struggles, & spectacular moments.
Greetings from New York.
Yep, you read that correctly……..my two legs have managed to get me to New York from Georgia, roughly 1405 miles………but who’s counting? Ha
The grand journey I am on never seizes to amazeme. I find myself in the most ridiculous places with the most random people. I enjoy the freedom to wake up and have no idea where I’ll be laying my head that evening. When you travel at 3 miles per hour, the destination won’t be too far………..but it’s always so uniquely different. In fact, a few places I slept last week included: a gazebo, on Wolf Rock view, on the side of a ridge, on the floor of St. Thomas Episcopal Church Hostel, and my personal favorite, the top of The Stairway to Heaven right under the stars. None of those destinations were planned or premeditated and that’s the beauty in being so free. It’s absolutely liberating to have everything you need on your back. With that being said, I’m going to fill you in on some of the shenanigans, struggles, an spectacular moments I’ve experienced in the last couple of weeks.
If you read my last update, I had been in PA for only a few days and my spirits were high because I was finally in the north! I wish I could say that my spirits were radiating all the way to infinity and beyond while I trucked through Pennsylvania, but that certainly wasn’t how my tour through there went. I had been hearing all along the trail how awful the rocks in Pennsylvania are, but never did I think they would effect me like they did. Over the course of the last couple hundred miles in PA I encountered a variety of struggles, most of which the rocks are to blame. I had hiked over 1000 miles and didn’t get a single blister……….. however, four of them managed to find a home on my feet in a matter of 48 hours. The blisters were quite frustrating because they really slowed me down and I even had to bust out the crocs to hike in for a few miles. It was absolutely terrible and took everything in my power to push through the pain. Trying to stabilize yourself on the rocks while moving north is difficult enough, then when rain is added to the equation, you have yourself a real challenge. Wet rock scrambling will not be my favorite. When I say ‘rocks’, to give you a clear picture of what I mean; it was like this for miles and miles and miles and miles.
Honestly, I think the biggest struggle I had with Pennsylvania was that it was extremely exhausting. In my ideal hiking groove, I can zone out and let my thoughts wander to places while the miles easily pass by. Since I was having to really focus on where to step without falling and breaking my leg(s) and/or face, it really was mentally exhausting as much as it was physically. 15 miles felt like 30 on my feet and I could hardly see an end to the boot camp I was willingly putting myself through. I’m not going to lie, the thought of quitting came to mind more than I ever thought it would on this trip. After one of the toughest days I have had on the trail, I had stopped to break on a rock a mile before my end destination. I was ready to throw the towel in and head home. I had stubbed my toe for the last time I could handle that day………….I was sweaty and thirsty, upset because everything was hurting. The water works of frustration began, I couldn’t remember the reason why in the ‘bleep’ I was putting myself through hell. I was thinking of the excuse I would use to why I had to quit and then I remembered something my friend Spicy had told me “Shotgun, it’s just walking”…………I started laughing, really laughing because how pathetic I looked. I wiped the tears, stood up, put my back on and began with one foot in front of the other. At that point, I knew I was going to beat those Pennsylvania Blues one way or another. AND I did. I learned a lot of things about myself in that state and I can’t say I’ll ever be back to hike that section again, but I did take away some great lessons, experiences, and friendships.
(A few photos from my time in PA)
I crossed the border into New Jersey and instantly my spirits were lifted. Who would have known Jersey was so beautiful?? I had always assosiated New Jersey with Newark and my goodness, was I pleasantly surprised. Out of the eight states I have walked through, New Jersey is at the top of the list. I was like a kid in a candy store, stopping frequently to admire the views, ample bodies of water, lush wildlife, and to chat with the great locals.
Speaking of locals, I meet such stellar individuals almost daily out here. My backpack is always a great conversation starter, which is a perk when trying to hitchhike to town. Most have some knowledge about the Appalachian Trail, but not to the extent of the time it takes to actually hike from Georgia-Maine. I’m blowing people’s minds regularly when I answer the usual “How long have you been hiking?” with “Oh, almost 4 months.” It amazes me how many people have no idea the trail(that’s literally in their backyard) covers 14 states. One of my favorite locals I connected with the other day was someone who really made my heart smile. A few other hikers and I had decided to take a couple hours away from hiking and adventure to Wawayanda State Park to spend some time at the lake. I was thinking that I could really use a bath and so could my clothes. After jumping in, I went to the snack/ice cream truck and began a conversation with the owner, Dawn. She is one of those people who you can tell has such a great heart that it radiates out of their smile. She was curious about the trail and I informed her that I blog and would gladly send her the link. The other hikers went there one by one and we all discussed how nice of a person she was. When we were leaving, she trail magicked us with ice cream, which was perfect for the hot day and gave us the sugar we needed to cross the NJ/NY state line.
A couple hours later she sent me a text saying that she would like to send me care package to the next place I was going to be. Everyday, I’m continually shocked with how awesome people are. The random kindness from strangers along the trail is something I’ll never forget!
After we crossed the state line, Tumblina, Blueberry, and I decided that some celebrations were in order. According to our AWOL guide, Lakeside, NJ was just 1 mile east down a blue blaze trail. We thought we could grab a bottle of wine and head back up before setting camp for the evening. Little did we know, that we’d be popped out right by a marina where a lovely family would take us on an evening cruise on their party boat, let us dive into the middle of the lake, and give us delicious wine. They treated us like celebrities, taking photos and congratulating us on such a crazy accomplishment. It’s amazing how things turn out when you live life without an itinerary.
I’m really looking forward to my continuous travels up the East Coast. I know it’s going to go fast and soon I’ll be summiting Katahdin wishing I could do it all over again. So for now, I’m going to try and embrace the moments and savor this experience of a lifetime. Despite the turmoil that is happening in our world, it really is a beautiful place. I am so glad I took the risk to go on this adventure.
Until next time,
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.
More rocks! You guys are killing me with these PA reports.
But … berries!