Still Walking South
Hello world. Pringles here. Grab your popcorn because I’m about to update you on the last 2 months of trail life. This blog is going to be different than usual. I want to give you the best idea possible of what trail life is actually like, who the people are, and what I have experienced- in raw emotion.
Where am I? Pennsylvania!
How long have I been hiking? September 1st marks 3 months! And considering I had to take 3 weeks off, I feel that I’m still making good time. Last one to Springer wins!
Trail Life: (like True Life.. haha punny)
I’m not just hiking the Appalachian Trail. I’m experiencing the Appalachian Trail. Every day I wake up, eat breakfast, and start walking. But every day I experience, see, and do something different. Some days, I plan to hike 18 miles and I actually hike 18 miles. Other days, I plan 18 miles and only walk 7 because I’m sucked into cute little trail towns, an amazing trail angel invites me into their home, or I just simply do not feel like walking all 18 miles. I’ve learned not to plan my days in advance because nothing ever goes according to plan on this trail. Trail life is hard to explain. It’s more than sleeping, eating, and walking. It’s waking up with amazing trail family by your side. It’s going through your food bag hoping that you have a Snickers bar left so you don’t have to eat another tuna wrap for lunch. It’s following the White Blazes that lead you to places most people in this world will never see. It’s smelling like pee, Deet, and sweat because you haven’t showered or done laundry in a week. Yes, smelling like urine is an accurate description. It’s taking your socks and shoes off halfway through the day because the rocks of Pennsylvania have your feet throbbing. It’s constantly reminding yourself why you’re doing this. It’s screaming at the mosquitoes because they have been swarming your face for miles. Trail life is more than I could ever put into words- the good and the bad. But I hope you have a better understanding that it’s not always a pretty sunset, a smiling face, and a walk in the woods. There are plenty of days where it is those wonderful things, but there are also plenty of days where I have to stop and remind myself why I’m doing this. This is the first time in my life that I have 100% done something for ME. And through the good and bad, I will keep walking.
Trail Angels: (these are my actual journal entries from the trail that include stories about strangers who have impacted my hike)
7/20/2016 West Hartford, Vermont. I slept in this morning. It was glorious. I started hiking at 0945 and made it 4 miles by 1120. I’m doing about 2.5 mph which is awesome coming off injury. My knee feels okay- no pain. We’re currently at a trail angel’s house that’s on the trail. The Hart family has been providing magic to hikers for years now. Their grandson, Aiden, has been ringing a bell to invite hikers over for a soda since he was 3 years old! He’s 7 now. We were invited in for a soda, pop sickle, scrambled eggs, and good company. Today’s weather is an amazing 70 degrees with a cool breeze. This is the life. The boys (Honey Bun, Funk Train, Thumper, and Tyler) are about to jump off of the bridge, but I’m just going to swim. It seems like the day will be spent here. We laugh how at this pace, we will make it to Georgia in 10 years. That’s fine by me because we’re having the time of our lives making unforgettable memories. This journey, to me, is about the people and experience.
7/28/2016 Manchester, Vermont. We slept on top of Bromley Mountain last night, and it was my most favorite night on trail thus far. The star gazing was unreal. We could see the Milky Way! The NOBOs we stayed with were hilarious and we laughed the night away. The weather was windy and cold, but I absolutely loved it. It was nice to not sleep in the heat.. And actually use my sleeping bag. This morning’s sunrise was beautiful. I awoke to a pink and purple array as the sun peeked through the clouds over the mountains in the distance. I’m currently hanging out on the ski lift- about to head into town and stay in a hostel for the night. I met Peter from Australia who is hiking around the northeast on his vacation. He so kindly gave me a ride into town and treated me to ice cream. It was his first time eating Ben & Jerry’s. The kindness of a stranger will forever amaze me. Thanks, Peter!
7/30/2016 Kid Gore Shelter, Vermont. I only did 9 miles today… I kind of regret it now that I’ve eaten and rested. But whatever! This means that I have to kill two 18 mile days to get across the border. Mom is meeting me in Williamstown, Mass! I’m so excited to see her. Today’s weather was incredible. Not too humid. I received trail magic this morning from the Green Mountain Club. Fruit and Gatorade was just what I needed to boost morale. I’ve been hiking alone for the past few days. It’s been nice, but I can’t wait to meet back up with the boys after I spend time in town with mom.
8/10/2016 Kent, Connecticut. When a horrible day turned amazing. It rained like cats and dogs all morning, I was stung by a wasp, and my phone fried in the storm. I am now phone-less. And I’ve lost all my pictures from this journey. Being with Mojo all day really lifted my spirits. We hiked in the pouring rain all day, but we still managed to stay positive. After hitching to town, we found a trail angel note in the grocery store. Yoli, our amazing trail angel, came and picked us up from town and took us to stay at her beautiful home for the night. She calls this “glamping”. I highly agree. An outdoor shower, pool, hot tub, laundry. How amazing! Once again, I am reminded how incredible the people on this trail are. My spirits are lifted. The boys (Mojo and Orpheus) are great company tonight. They’re playing their guitars, and Yoli has a piano that Mojo is playing. Mojo writes his own piano music, and it brings tears to my eyes every time I hear him play. I could not ask for a better ending to a no good, very bad day.
8/14-15/2016 Couch hopping between mine and Mojo’s family in New York. Thank you to my dad’s cousin Stacy for taking 2 smelly hikers in for the night. It was great to be fed a real meal and spend time with the family. We took a train into NYC today. It was overwhelming to say the least. Times Square felt like a whole different world; I think because it literally is. Then we took another train to Mojo’s aunt and uncle’s house. It’s been a lovely stay, and they are hilarious people. I’m thankful for our families spoiling us the past 2 nights. Back to the woods we go!
8/19/2016 Mick and Joyce, New York/New Jersey border. After hearing from White Walker, he informed me and Mojo that the trail angel he was staying the night with was inviting us into their home as well! It was great to be reunited with White Walker- who I haven’t seen since Monson, ME, after the 100 mile wilderness. Mick and Joyce let us sleep in their basement, fed us a great dinner, and we all had many laughs. The following day, Mick brought us pizza and soda to the trail. Like the true hiker trash we are, we ate it right there on the side of the road. And the next day, Mick gave us a ride to the post office so I could get a package and then to the store so Mojo could resupply. Mick and Joyce went above and beyond. I am so thankful to have met and got to know them.
Experiences: (the good, the bad, and the ugly)
As my grandma would say, this trail has taught me more lessons than I ever intended. A knee injury. Losing a phone in a storm. A visit to the hospital for dehydration and Giardia. Sidenote- I have the most amazing trail family (Mojo and White Walker) who took me to the hospital, waited for hours while I got fluids and blood work done, and they still manage to put up with me. Losing my wallet. Sidenote number 2- my grandparents came to my rescue. They drove all the way to come get me off the trail so that I wasn’t stranded with no ID, debit card, or cash. I’ve been taking a few zeros with them while I get everything straightened out. My grandma has washed my hiking clothes at least 3 times, and I’m going back to the trail smelling like a day hiker! Thank you, grandma and pap, for all you’ve done. Despite the obstacles that have gotten in my way, I’m still having the time of my life on the trail. The bad days help me appreciate all the good days more and more.
Closing time: (open all the doors and let you out into the world)
I guess I’ll elaborate on my hospital visit a little bit. I was dehydrated and had Giardia (a stomach bug from drinking contaminated water). Filter your water. Cause having to poop every 20 minutes down the trail is not exactly fun. It’s quite shitty. Haha punny again. And your grandma will have to buy you new underwear. I told you this blog was going to be more raw. Well, I hope you enjoyed. I’m sorry that I suck at updating more often. My excuse this time is that I’ve been without a phone for nearly a month. But have no fear, I am back on the grid! Thank you all for your endless support. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram (@ashschellhase) because I update on there more often. Onward to Georgia!
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This article is awesome .. My girlfriend and i are doing the same thing . There is not a time frame or destination just out here for three months and enjoying the peace and joy we get from hiking ..