Trail Update #11: (more than) halfway through the AT
Greetings from New York!
So much has happened in the last
two three weeks, here are the highlights:
- completed Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey
- spent an afternoon lazing at a pool
- passed the halfway point (1,094.9 miles)
- did not attempt the half gallon challenge, but cheered from the sidelines
- visited Urgent Care for some post-tick bite Doxycycline (All Better Care in Carlisle, PA could not have been nicer or more accommodating)
- attempted to rid my backpack of its perpetual stink (not successful)
- saw Wonder Woman
- hiked more than 75 miles in 4 days…twice
- passed the ‘less than 1,000 miles to go’ marker
- stayed at the very adorable Rock ‘n’ Sole hostel, presumably alone, but upon arrival was greeted by surprise friends Honey Badger, Rocketman, Papa John and Mr. Tom
- met back up with Slim Shady for about 2 hours before he left the trail for a wedding
- had friends Heather, Bob and Emily join me on the trail for a weekend, camping and all!! (trail names Cashmere, Pound Cake and Blazer)
- became the mini golf champion of Bear Rock Junction
- slackpacked and enjoyed an amazing trail magic home stay with Blink and new friends Bottles, Human, Blue Ray, and Shamrock
- passed 1,3oo miles (and by the time you read this, probably 1,400 miles as well)
- was stopped and ID’d by the police after a concerned citizen reported me for resembling this girl (also, the Vernon, NJ police were very very nice)
- had my brother and sister-in-law and college friends Millie and Amanda join me on the trail for a weekend AND they got to see a bear! (all trail names TBD except my sister-in-law Leona aka Cheese Knife)
- had brunch with my cousins
- went to Storm King Art Center
- tonight am sleeping at a notoriously bear-y shelter, so we’ll see how that goes!
Highlight pics below:
Fun and happy pictures and moments aside, a lot of the last three weeks has been pretty lonely, to be honest. After having spent a long weekend at home when I got to Harper’s Ferry, I started hiking on my own again and came to the realization that I’ve been without a real group/bubble/tramily since before Damascus, VA – about 800 miles ago now. I’ve met a ton of very nice and friendly people along the way, but I haven’t really had the security of knowing who I’m camping with – or even that I’m camping with other people – for what’s now become the majority of my time out here. After having experienced life in a group for the first part of the AT, it’s been hard to be on my own and I didn’t even realize it because mentally I’ve either been ‘trying to catch my group’ or ‘just ahead of my group’ the whole time as we’ve been leapfrogging each other, but really I’ve just been on my own and I don’t think I even have a group to speak of anymore!
Solitary life is pretty miserable, not gonna lie. And getting to share this experience thru hiking with friends and family through visits home or trail visits is great, but (for me, at least) it leaves me having to get over homesicknees again and again. Saying goodbye to my brother, sister-in-law, and friends today was really hard. Even though I don’t actually want to leave the trail – and thus far have never actually wanted to leave the trail – each time I see people I just want to beg them to drive me home and have a hard time maintaining my composure. But at the same time, once I force myself to just start walking it has gotten easier / taken less time to get back into the swing of things and trail life. Tonight, for instance, I’m camping with Blink and a trio I call the Three Amigos and it all feels very familiar and comfortable despite wanting to cry a few hours ago after saying goodbye. But (again, for me) being able to share my trail life with my home friends and family is absolutely worth the pain of separation. Some people tackle this challenge or deal with the loneliness by sequestering this adventure from the rest of their lives, choosing to thinking of it as an individual journey or whatnot, but I love how much the people in my life want to be involved in this with me – through mail, care packages, reading this blog, visits, etc. – and I want to share every bit with them.
Anyhow, I feel like every post I write essentially says, yeah this is both good and bad, hard and fun, and that’s basically still where I’m at. Truth be told I’d put it at 70/30 hard/fun, but I’m in a fun upswing at the moment so let’s not dwell on the miserable bits. That so many other thru hikers that I’ve talked to feel as I do makes it better.
For anyone reading this and thinking of thru hiking, know that it’s beautiful beautiful misery and you should definitely do it. ???
My colleague Jaime keeps suggesting great post ideas with actual interesting content, so if you’re lucky next week maybe I will have taken one of her suggestions. Until then, you can always count on me to take random pictures.
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