Peeping Tom on the trail, Pennsylvania blues, and a change of plans.
I had a creepy incident last night that is causing me to rethink my whole hike. I hiked into Palmerton at around 9:00pm. A shuttle driver named Brenda picked me up at 9:20 and brought me to the Jailhouse Hostel. The Jailhouse Hostel is located in the basement of the borough hall, a town building. There is a table, benches and about 10 bunk beds. Upstairs is a gymnasium and a locker room type area with a shower room. When I arrived I saw 9 other hikers hanging out. Among them was Eyes Adjust. He’s a socially awkward hiker in his 30’s I think. He is a skinny white guy with grey dreadlocks and wears glasses. I was nice to him for a while because I felt bad for him and because I’m nice to everyone unless I have a reason not to be. He said his friend was going to be in town once and we exchanged numbers in case I needed a ride. I always take the opportunity to exchange phone numbers with people because it is usually beneficial, especially if you lose something. He got kind of obsessive and would ask Schweppes and The Mayor where I was every time he saw them. He would do weird things like try and wait for me. One time I told him I’d probably see him later down the trail and then I turned away from him. He just stood there and stared at the back of my head for a minute until I turned my head back around and made a weird face like why are you staring at the back of my head? He tried to get me to share a hotel room with him before and sent me 10 screen shots of the English version of Watership Down which were met with no response. So when I saw him at the hostel last night I was nice but I wasn’t happy to see him there. At the hostel, he pulled me aside and told me Rowdy, who was a couple bunks down from me snores really loud and offered the open bunk next to his in the other room to me. I briefly considered it and decided I’d be more comfortable with the other hikers no matter how loud Rowdy’s snoring is. I told everyone I was going to hop in the shower because it’s not a very private shower. If people know you’re in there, they’ll steer clear of the shower until you’re done. Eyes Adjust showed me where the shower was on the other side of the dark, empty gymnasium and I said thank you and he left…so I thought. As I was undressing, I noticed he was peeping through a hole in the door. I said “Um, excuse me. I’m changing.” He stood up and walked away…so I thought. I figured catching him the first time scared him off so I hopped in the shower real quick planning to confront him afterwards. I noticed his creepy little eyes behind his creepy little glasses peeping through the hole again. I yelled at him ” Eyes Adjust, are you (expletive) kidding me!? GO AWAY.” He did. I got dressed and went downstairs to where the hostel was. He was sitting on his bunk reading. I grabbed Ladybug, the only other female hiker there and confronted him. He denied it at first and then admitted it after I said there are surveillance cameras up there and they will have seen that he didn’t leave right away. We told him he needed to leave and he said “I can’t’. I don’t have any money. I’ll just stay here tonight and leave tomorrow morning.” Another male hiker politely told him that there was no excuse and told him he needed to leave. While Rabbit was asking him to leave, I called the police so the other hikers wouldn’t have to deal with it anymore. Eyes Adjust said he would leave but I don’t think he ever had any intention of leaving. He didn’t make any movement toward packing his things until the officer arrived. With the officer there, Eyes Adjust took his sweet time packing his stuff up in the middle of the room where everyone was sitting. After he left, another hiker told a story about how Eyes Adjust lashed out at him for moving too much in a shelter once. I felt a little better when he was gone and went to bed. My phone rang as I was trying to go to sleep. It was my shuttle driver, Brenda. She said she got a call from a guy who just left the hostel asking to stay on her couch. She said she felt uneasy about it and suggested he register with the police and stay there (I think? I guess you can stay at the police station, or maybe she was just suggesting he ask them for help finding a place to stay). I don’t know, but he snapped at her and said he didn’t like the police and he wouldn’t go there and he didn’t want to show them his license. She said she’d give him a call back and that’s when she called me.
So now here I am wondering what to do with myself. Eyes Adjust is out there somewhere being creepy and angry with me. I don’t feel safe with him lurking around. I’ve been hiking my own hike the whole time. I like to hike by myself and camp with other people. I don’t wait for anybody and nobody waits for me. There have been times when I wished I wasn’t alone but I didn’t really feel like I was in any danger. My friends Atlas and Delaware are about 25 miles ahead of me now. I thought about getting a ride forward to get out of range from Eyes Adjust but I don’t really want to skip miles and I don’t think 25 miles is enough to ensure that I won’t have to see him again. I thought about doing work for stay for about 5 days somewhere in town and waiting for Swipes and Solitude. I thought about just sucking it up and hiking out today but the thought of having to camp with him doesn’t sit well with me. I’m all about everybody hiking their own hike and I feel like I can’t really do that right now. It’s a frustrating feeling. I can’t decide if I want to stay and hike somebody else’s hike or if I want to go home and finish the rest in sections.
ON THE PLUS SIDE: There were 8 other wonderful hikers at the hostel last night including Bullseye, Ladybug, Marathon, Rabbit, Skunk Bite, a guy who’s name I didn’t catch but I’m sure he’s wonderful, Duck, and Rowdy who were all very good company and not creepy at all. AND as it turns out, Rowdy doesn’t snore.
And now… I present to you slightly less interesting material in light of recent occurrences.
Days Miles: 26.3
Crossed over to PA! Crazy to think that I used to live here (until I was 7) and that I walked all the way here from Georgia.
Days miles: 19.6
I came across a sweet park with a swimming pool, slide, shower, and snack bar. It was only $5 and it was the best $5 I ever spent. I finally got up after a couple hours of lounging in my buff bandana/swimsuit top and my hiking shorts. As I walked over to get the last item to put in my bag, I stepped on a bee. Boy do those things pack a punch! This bee sting had me on the verge of tears. The whole bottom of my foot got swollen, hard, and felt bruised. I had to wait an extra hour for the swelling to go down before I could hike again.
Days miles: 17.1
Crossed the official halfway point and completed the half gallon challenge today.
Days miles: 12
Today was one of those days. Every step was difficult, every mile was exhausting. I wanted to sit down the entire day. I planned to get in and out of Boiling Springs but I was done by the time I got there. I walked into town with The Mayor (trail name, not the actual mayor of Boiling Springs). As we walked across the bridge, a woman pulled up next to us and asked if she could buy us lunch. We didn’t hesitate to say yes and she handed us $40. It was awesome and so kind of her to do that. Schweppes and I decided to share a room at the Allenbury hotel. I’ll do my best to explain the Allenbury, but I don’t think any explanation would paint an accurate picture. I walked to the Allenbury with The Mayor. There were so many different buildings-a theater, dining hall, different lodges. There was nobody at this hotel. It was like a ghost town. We couldn’t figure out where the main office was. He was hangry, had a temper tantrum and left. I was having none of that nonsense because I knew he needed some food and he would feel better. He also had Katana dog with him and the Allenbury doesn’t allow dogs (even though we could have totally snuck her in) so he didn’t know if he would even be able to stay there. He headed back to the trail and I went ahead and got a room. My room was in the Meadow lodge. There are 2 floors. All of the doors on the first floor were unlocked and the lights in the entire hallway were off. It was like something out of a movie. Schweppes eventually showed up and we went to get dinner in town with the trail magic lunch money. A huge storm rolled in and knocked the power out of the whole town as soon as we finished dinner. When we arrived back at the hotel we realized that the power was out there too making it even creepier than it already was. We told the front desk and they switched us from the Meadows Lodge to the Stone Lodge, which had power. It became clear that the Meadows Lodge was where they put the hikers and the Stone Lodge was where they put the real guests. Our new room was so much nicer. It had a flat screen with all the channels, beds, a couch, and a lodge common room with suede couches, an electric fireplace, a little kitchen area and a fridge with beer in it. It was grand.
Days miles: 25.3
This was an awesome day! I left Boiling Springs early. The first part of the day was flat farmland and other than the spider webs, it was beautiful! I would walk through woods and farmland and woods and farmland. The spider webs were out of control. I’m talking a spider web at least every 2 feet on the trail. I passed The Mayor, who hammocked in the previous night’s storm, in the morning with my headphones in. He called my name and I didn’t hear him at all. He thought I was ignoring him because he was hangry the day before until he caught up to me later. We hiked together most of the day and got into Duncannon, PA around 5:40pm. Katana dog wouldn’t really walk unless I was in front of her so we kept a steady Amy Stardust pace all day. This was a 26 mile day including the walk to the trail and trips to get water. We finished 26 miles in about 10 hours and saw signs for a hiker feed “today” from 5-7pm at the Lutheran Church. We weren’t sure if it was real. Sometimes people leave up their trail magic signs after they’re done with trail magic and it’s just too good to be true. But this trail magic hiker feed was real indeed. There was pasta with meat sauce, garlic bread, bread and butter, watermelon, apples, salad, brownies, donuts, cobbler, homemade ice cream, sweet tea, lemonade, fruit punch, cheese, yogurt, and resupply items. It was absolutely amazing. After the hiker feed Schweppes, The Mayor and I went to the infamous Doyle hotel. Our room was gross. All of the rooms are gross. The carpet was rubbed through so you could see the wood floor underneath, there were cob webs hanging from the ceiling, the walls were stained, the sheets were stained, the curtains (torn bed sheets nailed to the window) were stained, there were bugs all over the windowsill and smashed on the wall. There were even shoe prints on the wall with the smashed bugs inside of the print from people who had stayed there before us. The bottom floor of the hotel is a restaurant/ bar and it’s not much better looking than the rooms. It’s dark and dingy, looks like a dive bar, and there’s a bunch of sketchy characters smoking outside. The cook came out of the kitchen, killed a fly right there on the counter, picked it up with his hand, and threw it away. I hear the food is actually really good, but I wouldn’t have eaten at this place. I managed to sleep okay and get out of the Doyle the next day disease free…I think.
Days miles: 21.7
I got up and out of the hotel early, ate a couple muffins, and was ready to go when I saw Walter White. He said he was going to get breakfast and then the words “can I come with you?” came out of my mouth before I could stop them. I planned not to get sucked into town but I got sucked in anyway. I ate breakfast with Walt and Gizmo. Gizmo is a cool guy with a small backpack. I think he’s an ultralighter and he does pretty big miles. I left town later than I originally wanted to and had a rough time with the dreaded Pennsylvania rocks on the way out so that slowed me down a good amount. The weather called for a 50% chance of rain which I wasn’t really concerned about. It poured for 3 hours straight. I planned to get to a camp site around 9:00 but couldn’t make it so I camped by a stream and this was my first night camping by myself.
Days miles: 24.8
First night camping alone went well! I didn’t get scared at all. I did not get a good nights sleep though because I froze again. But that’s okay. My pack is lighter without my sleeping bag. Today was a rough day. I was deliriously tired or I got too many bugs in my eyes because my vision felt blurry all day. My back rash from my pack rubbing was worse than ever. You know that saying about pouring salt in an open wound? That’s what it’s like. It’s raw skin that sweat gets into and it burns. The pain is pretty intense. I fell on the Pennsylvania rocks and my pack lurched forward against my back. I thought my skin ripped off, it hurt so bad. Four of my toes have blisters, all of my toes have hot spots, my heels have blisters, and there are little raw spots on the bottom of my feet that feel like I’m walking on needles. Last but not least, I saw only one other thru hiker all day today. It was an eerie feeling. All of these things combined led to my second real tears on the trail. These are my Appalachian Trials. I felt much better after I cried, hauled A to the shelter and made it just before dark. I ran into Delaware and Atlas there who I haven’t seen in a week which was really nice. I took a cold solar shower in the dark and they shared their pizza with me. All is right in the world.
Days miles: 24.1
I got up and out before 7:00am ready to get to Port Clinton. There were rocks and then less rocks and rocks and then less rocks and then flat and then more rocks. I came upon some really awesome trail magic from Boy Scout Troop 511 from Bechtelsville, PA. They had 2 tents set up with a tray of veggies and veggie dip and a tray of fruit, hamburgers, hot dogs, homemade zucchini relish, chips, crackers, different kinds of cookies, and sodas. It was incredible. I was really rationing my food so I would have enough to get to town. I could have eaten what I had in my food bag in one sitting and that was supposed to last me 24 miles. The trail magic was an awesome surprise and a huge help. It fueled me for 14 more miles before I had to stop and snack again. My feet hurt so bad because of the big mile days I had been putting in and the rocks. It rained again and I was frustrated because I didn’t know how close I was to Port Clinton. My guidebook completely omitted road crossings, told me there was an unmarked, and unreliable spring that was indeed marked and reliable, and neglected to mention views and other trails in the area so I had no idea where I was. It was just rocks and dirt. But I don’t usually hate on my guide book for the record. A lot of people do, but I love my guidebook! I give my guidebook at least 70% of the credit for helping me make it this far. I finally stumbled into Port Clinton around 7:00pm. Not bad timing for all the rocks and hanging out at the trail magic. I met a section hiker named Kyle about a week prior who told me he was from Port Clinton. I told him I would be in around the 13th and asked if he knew how I could get to Reading to catch a bus to Philadelphia from there. We got to chatting and he told me to give him a call when I got in. I did and he invited me to stay with him and his girlfriend. I accepted and it was awesome. They had a cute little guest room upstairs, I got a shower, and did laundry. We watched The Great Gatsby. This is my second attempt at watching this movie. I fell asleep again, BUT HEY! It’s all good. I went to bed and then woke up around 2:00am to the sound of a fan clinking. I must have been in a really deep sleep due to lack of sleep the previous week because I could not figure out where I was to save my life. It took a minute before I remembered.
7/13, 14 & 15
Days miles: 0!
Kyle’s friend Dustin drove me to Reading to catch a bus to Philadelphia in the morning. I have Aunts, Uncles, cousins and a Grandma right outside of Philadelphia and taking time off to visit them has been on the agenda since I started planning this trip. The bus dropped me off in the middle of the city and I think my jaw dropped. I hadn’t been in a city that big in a long time, and definitely not by myself straight out of the woods with a backpack. One of my sisters best friends, Dylan moved to Philadelphia about a year and a half ago. She picked me up and we went to this amazing restaurant called One Shot for brunch. Dylan went skydiving the other day. That’s pretty cool so I had to throw that in here somewhere. I got an egg white sandwich with bacon, avocado, tomato, and herbed goat cheese on a brioche bun, with rosemary lemonade to drink. It was delightful. It was so nice seeing Dylan! It’s been years. Dyl dropped me off in center city again and I walked to meet up with my cousin Ryan. He was hanging out with his girlfriend who lives in a really beautiful apartment there. From there we went to Aunt Sandy and Unkie B’s house. I thought just my Aunts and Uncles would be in town because they live here, but the whole family was in, including Grandma Peggy. The cousins range in age from 19 to 30 and they travel and go to school and are getting jobs, so I figured they would all be out and about and grandma lives in Florida the rest of the year so I thought she was in FL. It was so good to see everyone! We watched the World Cup and had a family dinner. It was a really great night.
Sleeping in a familiar house was wonderful. I woke up in the morning and watched The Challenge. It’s one of my beloved shows I have been missing and they have it on demand. Aunt Lucy picked me up around noon and took me to Walmart. She was surprised at how little I bought there. I got a $6 shirt, a travel size deodorant, small toothpaste, some cheese and a bag of trail mix. I only needed a 2 day resupply, and a few other things. I was also looking for extra Sawyer Squeeze bags, fuel and something warm to sleep in. Walmart has a decent selection of sleeping bags online but their in store selection is not so good. Aunt Lucy hooked me up with another fleece blanket so hopefully I’ll be able to get a better nights sleep. As for the Sawyer Squeeze bags and the fuel, I made the mistake of asking the man who worked there if he could direct me to the fuel and water filters. He kept saying “I have this kind” and “I have that” and things like “my filter selection is small” in reference to what Walmart has and Walmart’s selection. I said, oh thanks! This isn’t quite what I’m looking for. He proceeded to try to sell me a Brita pitcher and some huge thing of gasoline. I was thinking what? No, you don’t have what I’m looking for. It’s nothing personal man. As Aunt Lucy and I left the store I realized I lost my phone. After backtracking through the trail mix aisle, clothing area, dressing room, and camp section I found it on the sleeping bag shelf. I had set it down while I was weighing sleeping bags with my hands. I got a pedicure! And it was nothing less than spectacular.
Days miles: 14.8
This was a rough day. My Aunt Sandy dropped me back off on the trail around noon. After spending time with family I got a wave of homesickness. I called my mom and had to call her back because I was crying so hard I couldn’t speak. When I talked to her she said she knew this would happen and I said through broken sobs “I d did t t oo”. She wasn’t saying it in a mean way but I have gone on my fair share of adventures and this happens every time. My family is so supportive. I imagine she wants to tell me to come home because I know she misses me too but instead she said that even though I’m having a bad day, that I still want to finish, I want that moment at the top of Katahdin, and to hang in there. She reminded me that getting on a plane and going home now wouldn’t be the same feeling as if I was on a plane home after completing the trail. For the first time since April 5th, I actually thought about going home for a sad minute. I have a case of the Pennsylvania blues that will go away eventually. A lot of people are getting down at this point. The rocks are getting the best of us, we miss home, and we’re tired of walking. The trail logs are getting more and more negative. But for every negative, there are three positives! I’m healthy, I have a supportive family, and I’m surrounded by kind, wonderful people on the trail. I know this is just a phase and I gotta keep trucking and get myself out of this funk.
Days miles: 25.4
I think I’ve got a change of plans in the works that will keep me away from Mr. Creepy and get me to Katahdin. I’m in it to win it! I can’t share this plan because I’m Paranoid Amy and I need to keep the advantage in this game called life.
“You’re headed upstream.”
“The easy way out will always be there, ready to wash you away.”
“Those who are flexible shall not be broken.”
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