Week 17 – Duncannon to Waynesboro, PA

We are almost at our halfway point of our journey!  Just a few more days and we will have completed half of the entire Appalachian Trail!  What an adventure this has been so far!  The people we’ve met.  The small towns we have come across.  Truly this has been a journey of a lifetime and I have loved every minute of it!  We say goodbye to 33 and continue our journey south as we head for the halfway mark!


Day 113 (7:58am – 12:30pm, 11 miles, 50 degrees)

Today I get to meet Ratatouille’s Mom and her husband. I’ve heard so much about them, I can’t wait  to meet them!  33 was the first one out of camp this morning.  Ratatouille and I took bets, regarding how many hours 33 would be waiting for us in Duncnnon, as we started our trek through the woods.

The terrain is very flat today.  But don’t let that fool you!  “Rocksylvania” is still battering our feet, one lose rock after the next.  But the views today are stunning!  With little leaves left on the trees, as we traversed along the ridgeline, we could see mountains and hills in the distance and the little town of Duncannon slowly emerging down below.

Ratatouille and I spent the majority of the day chatting and joking as we danced across the rocks.  On and on we walked along the ridge.  We could see Duncannon below us, with an enormous bridge crossing the Susquehanna River.   But our path continued to lead us southwest, away from the busy city.

I can see the city right there!  When will we turn and start our descent?   Finally, after we had the city somewhat behind  us, our path took a sharp turn toward the north, and we started to drop elevation.  Down and down we went, walking along a narrow pathway;  rocks up to our right and a plunge to our doom towards our left.

We finally reached the road we needed to cross.   With the bridge directly in front of us, where was the trail?  We both stopped, searching for the ever allusive white blaze, and could find none.  Finally, using technology, I was able to find our path, and across the 1/2 mile bridge we walked.

We walked the historic streets of the little town of Duncannon for several blocks, searching for the pub we planned to meet 33 at for lunch.  Ratatouille’s Mom would also be meeting us at the pub, then we would drive to our hotel, clean ourselves up, and go out for dinner for the evening.

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Sure enough, 33 was inside the pub, finishing his lunch and enjoying a well earned beer.  We joined him for lunch, enjoying beers of our own, until Ratatouille’s family arrived.  Ratatouille introduced us to her Mom, her Mom’s husband, Rich, and his son, Mark as we discussed the plans for the remainder of the day.  Ratatouille’s Mom was everything I had expected; a nice, sweet, warm woman, with a striking resemblance to Ratatouille.

After our lunch, Ratatouille, 33, and I piled into the car and drove to our hotel close by.  We checked in, showered, then decompressed for a few hours until we gathered again to go out for dinner.  Deciding on a local pizzaria, we all chatted, sharing stories about our adventures, as we enjoyed our diner together.  Well fed, we decided on some ice cream, we couldn’t pass that opportunity by, then called it an early night.  Tomorrow we push on to Carlisle, PA, and we’ll see my friend, Brenda and her significant other, Matt!  I can’t wait!  It’s been far to long!



Day 114 (9:21am – 4:15pm, 15.3 miles)

I’ve been texting Flicker the past few days, seeing if she is able to catch up with us in time to go to Brenda’s home.  Unfortunately, she is still a few days behind us, but she is not alone.  She has been hiking with another SOBO named Legolas.  Legolas!  I have been dying to meet this person since I saw their name in a log book in Maine!  How did we get ahead of them?

I’m hoping Flicker will be able to catch up with us because, in just a few days, we will be meeting up with my parents to celebrate Thanksgiving.  My Dad made hotel and Thanksgiving dinner arrangements for all of us, including Flicker.  So hopefully she will be able to catch us soon!

Since Flicker is not able to join us at Brenda’s home, 33 will be joining us instead.  We’ve had a few days of hiking with him, or should I say chasing him down the trail, and he has become a good friend along the way.  It’s truly amazing how fast you get to know people on the trail!  People you can trust with your life, and you feel as though you have known them for a lifetime.  This is one of the magical aspects of being a thru-hiker.  One I will cherish for years to come.

We got an early start this morning.  We have many miles to cover today in a race to meet up with Matt and Brenda this evening.  We ate breakfast with Ratatouille’s family, thanked them for their fantastic company and their generosity, and we were dropped back off where we ended yesterday.

33 needed to run a few errands in town, so Ratatouille and I started on our way.  As we walked out of Duncannon, we crossed a much smaller bridge with some ducks swimming below us.


We followed a tiny road out of town until our path finally bent to the right, heading back up the mountain to the ridge.  As we started our ascent, we saw Skooch up ahead!  Maybe we’ll see her again soon!  33 was close behind us as we gained elevation.  Suddenly, there he was behind us, racing down the trail.  With the promise of a hot tub and a nice warm place to stay tonight, there was no slowing him down!  We’ll just have to see him at the pick up point later today!

As he disappeared into the distance, we continued along the hike up the mountain.  Several minutes later, we met a large group of people, friends from the same work place, out for a day hike.  We chatted with them for a little while,stopping just before we reached the top of the ridge, and learend that 33, the flash, had passed by not long before us.  The sun was out, the sky was blue, the temperatures were mild,  but they would be dropping later tonight.  We hiked along the ridge, with beautiful views all around us.

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Eventually, we met up with two men with their dog and son.  We chatted with them for a while, learning they were long time friends, out for a weekend hike.  The one man was from Rochester, NY of all places! The young boy that traveled with them reminded me of when I was a young girl, hiking with my Dad and his best friend in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  We chatted for quite a while, laughing and sharing stories about our home town, until it was time for Ratatouille and I to press on.  We took a short lunch break with a beautiful view, and shared more stories with our new friends that had caught up with us once again.  While we were enjoying the beautiful weather and the great company, the hours were starting to pass us by.  We had to get a move on.  Ratatouille and I bid our new friends farewell, and pressed on towards Carlisle, PA.  As we continued to walk across the ridge, we passed several large boy scout groups and some other small groups of weekend hikers.  Slowly we made our descent down the mountain, with only a few flat miles to go through farm lands and small patches of woods.

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As we walked through one of the last patches of woods for this day, I saw a man standing off trail looking at some large object on the ground in front of him.  I focused on the large metal object, slightly bent around a growing tree, and I suddenly realized the object I looked at was an OLD vehicle that had crashed sometime long ago!  I stepped off trail to join the man, investigating this relic.  While I could not determine what kind of car this was, I was able to determine the car had flipped onto its roof and smashed into the tree, wrapping its bumper around the tree.  Wreckage was everywhere, spots of rust peaking through the multitude of leaves spread on the ground.  I asked the man if he had any information on this historic spot, but he was as ignorant of the history as I was.  There were no signs of any roads near by.  They must have been reclaimed by nature as the years passed by.

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We continued on our path, until we finally arrived at the Scott Farm Trail Work Center.  33 was already there, and had been there for a few hours (as expected).  Within a few minutes, Matt arrived to pick us up and bring us back to his home.  After introductions and warm greetings, we piled into the car and head for their home.  Along the way, we decided to stop and surprise Brenda at her new business!

We pulled into parking lot, the signs of her recently opened business glowing in the dark night.  How beautiful!  I can’t believe she finally followed her dream and opened her own business!  I’m so proud of her!  I couldn’t wait to surprise her so I popped out of the car, stealthly running towards her front door, slipping inside, and almost tackling her to the ground with a big hug!  Thankfully not so surprised as to deck me, she laughed and showed me around her facility as the others finally made their way into the building.  I introduced them to my long time friend and we chatted for a while before we decided on dinner plans and head for her home.

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That night, we all chatted and watched movies, surrounded by Ripley, Bobo, and Bella, Brenda’s dog and two cats, until the wee hours of the morning.  It was so great to be able to catch up with Brenda and Matt, tour their home, and have a nice warm bed to sleep in tonight!  Tomorrow we will relax and rest our bodies from the miles we have been traversing.  Then we will hit the trail once more.  For now, we rest easy in the warmth of their home.


Day 115 (Time – racing by, 0 miles, warm enough degrees)

Warm and comfortable, but still on my hiking schedule, I woke early this morning.  I climbed out of bed and began my task of documenting my adventure.  I typed away as one by one, each of my friends woke and joined me in the warmth of the living room. But what to do today?

“We’re not far from Gettysburg,”  I suggested.  But we did not have as much time, since I spent all morning writing my notes about my trip so far.

We made the decision.  We’d drive to Gettysburg, Brenda and Matt were kind enough to lend us one of their vehicles, and we’d have lunch there and do the driving tour.  That’ll work!  Off we went!

Ratatouille and I navigated our way towards Gettysburg, only managing to get lost once (or twice), and finally arrived at our destination;  The Appalachian Brewing Company. What better place to go for lunch as a bunch of thru-hikers!  But something tells me we may be the only thru-hikers there.  This is not exactly close to the trail!

We read over the menu.   So many choices!  33 and I could not pick a single beer so, we ordered a few flights of beers to taste.

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Four score and 12 beers ago . . . well, maybe only an hour ago or so, 33 had managed to get through all his beers (good thing he’s not driving us anywhere!) and I had almost made it through mine.  I had a little help from Ratatouille as one of those motoroil flavored beers was a little thick for me.  After a delicious meal, the sun was getting close to setting, so we head on our way for the driving tour.  For the next hour or so, we drove around the landmarks of the historic Gettysburg area, stopping occasionally to walk around the different locations.  Many cemeteries and monuments later, we head for a lookout tower so we could see the setting sun.  Making it there just in time, we climbed up the flights of stairs and snagged a picture.

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What a great trip this has been!  I’ve seen some amazing, wonderful, things in the woods, and have gotten the opportunity to see America through a different lens.  I’ve seen many small towns I never would have considered visiting prior to this trip, but will return to for years to come!  Now, we’ve gotten to see one of the biggest historic sites in our country’s history!  Fantastic!

With that, we made the drive back to Brenda and Matt’s home, and had a wonderful home cooked meal.  After our delicious dinner, Matt showed me his man cave in the basement, where he keeps all his guitars.  This collection almost rivaled that of my good friend, Dan, however, I still think Dan’s got him beat!  Looking at the plethora of guitars on the wall, suddenly I spotted a gem amongst the rough; A BASS!

“Matt! Can I play your bass!”  I was so excited!  I had been dreaming of playing a bass since we started our adventure back in Maine!

“Sure!”  He replied as he got me set up with an amp and plugged in one of his guitars.

While my hands had not held a bass in quite some time, my fingers quickly began to find their way across the fret board as song after song started to emerge from the amp.  It was as if my hands had a mine of their own.  Something triggered my fingers to remember a song, and off they went.  As the notes poured from the amp, with a dumbstruck look on my face, I stared at Matt.  “What song am I playing?”  I asked a bit bewildered.  “I recognize this song but I can’t place it.”

My fingers continued to race across the fret, my right hand strumming in rhythmic triplets, spinning their web of music.  We listened to the notes and finally Matt was able to pinpoint it.  “You’re playing Creeping Death by Metallica!”

“I haven’t played this in years!  I can’t believe my hands remember this!”

I continued to play for an hour or so, attempting one song after another, and sending a few short videos to my old guitarist, Dan.  After getting my fill, and recognizing it was getting late and my friends were all up stairs, I reluctantly lay down the bass and returned to spend time with my friends.  Man that was fun!

We all watched some movies for a while, then Brenda gave me a tour of her studio.  I was so jealous!  What a great set up she has!  I have GOT to come back here to visit her more often!  As the hours ticked by, our eyelids became heavy, and it was time for bed.  Everyone retired for the evening as Brenda and I chatted for a few hours longer, catching up and sharing stories.  Tomorrow, we’ll be hitting the trail again.  But I feel like we only just got here!  I wish we didn’t have to go so soon!

But the trail is calling our name, and the finish line is eagerly awaiting our arrival.  With the days passing us by, we can’t linger long.  We’ll have to start up running again tomorrow.  We’ll be saying goodbye to 33 soon.  He’ll be leaving us to attempt his 4 state challenge, completing a large amount of miles that cross 4 states (Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia) in 24 hours.  Good luck my friend!  But for now, we rest.


Day 116 (10:27am – 5:10pm, 14.4 miles, chilly degrees)

We woke once more from our comfortable and warm beds, and began to pack our belongings.  We’ve got to get a move on!  Packed and ready to go, we said goodbye to Bobo, Ripley, and Bella, gave a big hug to Brenda, thanking her for her hospitality, and climbed into the car with Matt.  We were going to make one last stop at Brenda’s studio for a few pictures, then we’d be off towards the trail once more.


Photo shoot done, we arrived at the trail head, ready to rock once more.  We hugged Matt goodbye, thanking him for his hospitality as well, placed our packs on our back, and head off down the trail.  Its another chilly day today, but for hiking, this temperature is perfect.  33 quickly took off into the distance, as we bid him farewell, not expecting to see him again today.  Thinking about my fun visit with my friends, I trotted down the trail, as Ratatouille took off into the distance as well.


I hiked alone for the majority of the day, passing through one field after the next. Walking the country side with the sun shining high in the sky, I was taking in all the views along the way.  The trail meandered this way and that, passing through a few farm fields as well, with the cows watching us as we as we went.  Greens rolled into yellows and oranges as I learned the true meaning of “amber waves of grain”.

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I rounded yet another corner of another field, as a small fenced in area appeared before me.  It was a small graveyard, what seemed to be from one family.  I dropped my pack, noting my feet were becoming sore and I was due for a break anyways, and I spent a moment to pay my respects to this family plot.  Respectfully, I walked around the small graveyard, looking at one headstone after the next, and after some time, was ready to move back on my way.


Every step I took was agony today.  My feet have been bothering me for a while, but today seems even worse!  The pain under the balls of my feet is excruciating , causing me to stop more frequently for a break than usual.  What kind of damage am I doing to my feet? Am I doing anything permanent?  Am I dealing with stress fractures, or just a really severe case of Morton’s Neuroma?  All these questions raced through my head with every aching step.  Maybe I can distract myself, and forget the pain.  After all, I have pressed on all the bones in my feet, and they’re not sensitive.  I really don’t think anything is fractured.  Or is it?

On and on I walked, trying to distract myself from the pain, and failing miserably.  Am I going to make it to Georgia at this point!?

On that last thought, I made up my mind.  I am getting through this!  I continued along my way, as the clouds rolled overhead.  I wasn’t even 1/4 of the way through my trip for the day.  I still had a long way to go.  But the good news is, today we pass by the historic halfway point of the AT!  I’m getting closer and closer to the current halfway point of the trail!

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As I was once more reaching the end of my tolerance with my pain, requiring a break soon, across a field I saw a man with two dogs heading my way.  Those look like Bernese Mountain Dogs!  My love, back in Rochester, wishes one day to have a Bernese Mountain Dog!  With each step closer, the two fuzzy babies came into view.  They are Bernese Mountain Dogs!


“Good afternoon!”  I hollered to the man with the dogs.

“Good afternoon,” he replied with a smile across his face.

“Do you mind if I pet your dogs?” I asked politely.  After getting the nice man’s approval, my two new fuzzy friends licked and jumped all over me, and I chatted with the man for a bit.  I learned that he was a Physical Therapist that worked in the area!  What a small world!  We chatted for quite some time, as I shared with him that I, too was a PT that had only just passed my boards a few months ago before starting my adventure.  As we talked, the shadows grew larger on the ground, and the sun crept closer to the horizon.  I had to get moving again.

“It’s been so fantastic to get to know you.  Thank you so much for letting me pet your dogs as well!”  We said our goodbyes, and walked in our opposite directions, my feet refreshed from the break.  Good, because I have some miles to make up!

I still haven’t seen any of my trailmates today.  Ratatouille must really be on a roll!  That’s ok.  I’ll see her at the shelter.  I met a few other local hikers along my way, chatting with them as we walked, until my pace overtook theirs and I was off into the distance.  Eventually, I caught up with Ratatouille, who had stopped to wait for me along her way, and we walked into the historic town of Boiling Springs together.

Boiling Springs is another one of those beautiful, hiker friendly, towns that I never would have considered visiting prior to starting this trip.  It was quite a lovely town.  Ratatouille and I made a stop at the local ATC center, then stopped at a small coffee shop to warm ourselves, both inside and out.  With delicious coffee and treats in our bellies, we were off once again.  We placed our enormous packs back on our backs and walked down the streets of the town.  Our path lead us around a large pond, then past a huge cone like structure.  What on earth is that?  I just had to stop and read the signs.

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These were the furnaces I had heard about from other hikers!  They are historic iron furnaces that are spread through the area.  From what I understand, we may be passing more of these in the next several days.

After the quick bit of reading, we continued along our way, walking through more sections of woods and open fields.  At least the terrain is mild today!  Getting close to our destination, we picked up our pace.  Slowly we started to climb.  Up and up we went, climbing the small mountain.  We followed the winding path, along one switchback after the next, until we finally reached the ridgeline.  We rounded a corner and found a small monument.  What’s this?

This was the original halfway point of the Appalachian Trail.  As the years have gone on, they have added miles to the trail.  Year after year, the midway point on the trail changes.  This was the first halfway point.  The critters, of course, had to come out for a short picture.  They were able to brave the cold long enough for the shot at least.

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With only a few miles to go, we trudged on.  The light was starting to fade and the clouds were becoming thicker.  Tonight, the moon is supposed to be the closest to earth is has ever been, but I doubt we’ll get to see it with this cloud cover rolling in.  We arrived at the Alec Kennedy Shelter, just before the sun dropped below the horizon.  As we neared the shelter, we could see the light from a fire glowing in the fire pit.  What a wonderful welcome in this chilly night air!  We dropped our packs, and there was 33!

“Hey!” I greated him with a big smile.  “I didn’t expect to see you here!  What happened?”

“I decided to take an easy day today, then I’ll start making the miles tomorrow.”

“Fair enough.”

With him, was another man, tending the fire.  We introduced ourselves, set up our sleeping arrangements for the evening, made our dinner, and chatted for a little while before we retired for the evening.  The man that tended the fire was Janus.  He was out for a short hike, just a one nighter.  As we snuggled into our sleeping bags, sharing a few last stories, slowly, each of us drifted off to sleep.  My feet rested, comfortably, after a long hard day.  I really hope this pain subsides over the next few days, or the rest of my adventure will be VERY difficult, and may lead to worse damage as time goes on.  I will have to keep a close eye on them!


Day 117 (8:17am-5pm, 19.2 miles, 45 degrees)

I woke in the middle of the nigh last night, and finally got to see the enormous moon!  Last night, the moon was the closest it has been to earth in 60-70 years, but unfortunately, it was too foggy to see through the clouds.  As I woke in the darkness, the moon still shown like a search light through the trees and clouds.  After enjoying the light from the moon for a short time, I closed my eyes once more and drifted back off to sleep.

Once the sun peaked its head over the horizon, we woke one by one and began our morning routines.  After breakfast, we packed our belongings and said goodbye.  33 will be attempting his 4 state challenge soon and is trying to outrun the rain that is coming our way.  He will be pushing 20+ miles today to try to set himself up for the 4 state challenge the best that he can.  We will not be seeing him for a while.  Perhaps, we will meet up again, but for now, we say farewell.

Meanwhile, Ratatouille and I are trying to take our time.  We only have a few more days before we meet up with my parents for a wonderful Thanksgiving break.  We are trying to allow time for Flicker to catch up with us.  Maybe we’ll see her soon!  I know she made some excellent miles while we were with Brenda, but she is still about a 1/2 day away from us and we have a good amount of miles head of us today.  But she thinks she may be able to catch us tonight.  We’ll see.

Our terrain is once again relatively flat today.  But we will be going through some really fun rocky outcroppings!  I can’t wait.  Ratatouille and I were on different paces again today, which was fine.  I plugged in my music and was on my way.  Not too far into my day, I arrived at what the AWOL Guidebook calls the Rock Maze.  It was fantastic!  I smiled and danced my way through the rocks, loving every uneven step, and getting a few opportunities to take pictures along the way.

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Ratatouille had been hoping to make it to see the AT Museum at the Pine Grove Furnace, however this time of year it is closed for the season.  So she plugged along through the little park, while I stopped to enjoy the scenery and enjoyed a small lunch. As expected, there were more furnaces to see here.  How neat!

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On and on I went, Ratatouille far off into the distance at this point.  We planned to meet up at the Tom Run Shelter.  I’ve heard from a few other hikers that I should be crossing last year’s halfway point on the AT, just before I arrive at the shelter tonight!  I hope Ratatouille is there when I get there so we can take a pic together!

I picked up the pace, realizing she was probably a good distance ahead of me at this point.  As I crept closer and closer to our shelter, the sun dropped closer and closer to the tree line.  I’m not going to make it before the sun drops!  I sped up more, and finally arrived at last year’s halfway point!  Ratatouille was no where to be found.  Somewhat disappointed, but overwhelmed with emotion at reaching the halfway point for the previous year, I set up my camera, and snapped a few pictures.  We’ve made it this far!  What a journey it has been so far!  I am almost halfway done with my life’s dream!  Tomorrow we cross our halfway point!

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As I completed my brief photo shoot, the sun dipped below the trees and darkness began to fall.  I walked the last mile towards the shelter and found Ratatouille almost done setting up her tent.  I found a nice spot for my tent and began my evening routine of setting up camp and making dinner.  Very tired from the long trek today, I did not speak much, but Ratatouille and I enjoyed a quite meal together, then turned in to our tents for the evening.   Flicker is not going to make it tonight.  Hopefully we see her soon.  She’s hoping to catch up with us tomorrow at our next resting sport for the night.  We’ll keep in touch with her as we go.

Day 118 (9:17am -4:05pm, 13.6 miles, 40 degrees)

Sometime before lunch today, we will be crossing this year’s halfway point on the AT.  Ratatouille and I plan on hiking together until that point.  We’re hoping there is another wonderful sign that shows us we’ve made it.  But I have not heard of one from anyone.  Fingers crossed we’ll find something.

We packed our items, refilled our water bottles, and started our journey for the day.  Chatting as we walked, we decided on a short day today to allow Flicker to catch us.  She is supposed to meet us at the Quarry Gap Shelter tonight, but she will be pushing some big miles to catch us!  I hope she can!

The path through the woods today has been stunning.  It has become wider, has less rocks, and the ground is getting softer.  Good thing too!  My feet have really been a problem recently. The nerve pain in the balls of my feet is never ending and I have now developed blisters on the outside of both heels. These are not your regular blisters.  These are blisters below several layers of thick callouses!  How on earth am I going to take care of these!  The struggle continues.  But I kept on plodding along, doing the best I could to take care of my feet along the way.

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We neared what the AWOL Guidebook called the current halfway point of the AT.  Only a few miles to go, we passed a beautiful cabin, that was locked, a little ways off the trail.  I stopped briefly to check it out as Ratatouille chatted with a day hiker that was heading North.  We continued along our way, our eyes pealed for any signs of the halfway point.   We crept closer and closer to the correct mileage for the halfway point.  The trail was arrow straight ahead of us, with a nice open path ahead and behind us, and a thin forest on either side of us.  No signs of anything.  I pulled out my GPS.  One step after another.  0.1 miles to go.  Nothing!  There was no marker for this year’s halfway point.  Oh well.  We continued along our way, staying relatively close to each other today, as we made our way towards the shelter.

The skies started to become dark, so we took cover at the Birch Run Shelter for a brief lunch break.  as we sat, eating our meals, the rain poured down outside.  We waited for the rain to pass, then began on our way once more.  We started our descent down the mountain.  We’re almost there!  I wish we could keep going, but we must wait for Flicker to catch up.  After all, we can’t arrive too early to town either, or we will have to spend an extra zero waiting for my dad.

As we emerge from the trees, there was the Quarry Gap Shelter before us.  Unlike some of the shelters we have gotten used to, this one had two separate sleeping rooms!  The entire sight was stunning!  There were some garden areas, and a swing! Beautiful.  I think this is my favorite shelter so far!  We each took a separate room, not expecting aHnyone else for the evening, except, perhaps Flicker.  Once we were set up for the evening, I walked around, inspecting the area and taking lots of pictures.

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Water has been difficult to find recently, and the sources we are pulling from are getting lower, and more still.  I am really testing my filter.  Our water source for tonight was no different.  I pulled my water from a small, clear, pool and cooked my dinner.  Ratatouille and I ate dinner together, then found some games in the shelter.  She taught me how to place Phase 10, and we played for an hour or so.  After a while of chatting and playing, we both retired to our rooms for the evening.  No Flicker again tonight.  But she is getting closer.  In just a few days, we will get picked up by my parents and will spend Thanksgiving in a local town with them.  It’ll be nice to see them again!  With my feet as bad as they have been recently, I look forward to a few days of rest.  Just a few more days.


Day 119 (8:47am-1:56pm, 12.2 miles, 35 degrees)

It is getting colder out.  We are starting to enter into winter for sure.  Things were a little frosty this morning as I crept from my warm sleeping bag.  Ratatouille had been up for a little while and was almost packed and ready to go by the time I was making my breakfast.  We have even less miles to cover today, still trying to allow Flicker to catch us, and making sure we don’t arrive to early for my parents as well.  It was a little too chilly this morning for Ratatouille to sit and wait, so she started along the trail.  We’ll meet up again tonight at the Tumbling Run Shelter.

The day has started out chilly and a bit misty, but the miles are short, so off I go.  The walk today has been beautiful!  The woods are gorgeous and the sun emerged as the day grew on.  The beauty of my surroundings has been helping, slightly, to distract me from my tormented feet, but every single step continues to be agony.

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I am still battling the pain in the balls of both feet, causing me to break once every hour for relief, and the outside of my heels are screaming!  I was not able to drain my blisters last night as I would have liked, because both blisters are below what feels like a half inch of callouses.  The Leuko tape isn’t working either.  How on earth did I even get these blisters?  I will have to inspect them further once I get into town.

Last night, Ratatouille and I decided stopping in Waynesboro, PA would be a good idea.  Hopefully this will allow me time to take care of these blisters, and give Flicker a chance to catch up once again.  She may even catch us before we get into town! Fingers crossed.

We still have a few more days before we meet up with my parents.  But we’re taking our time until then.   I am enjoying all the views, but hiking less than 15 miles a day is difficult in a different sense.  Every time we arrive at our destination for the evening sooner than expected, with more hours of daylight available, Ratatouille and I both get that burning sensation to keep going.  But our timeline and trying to let our friend catch us keeps us where we are.  It’s ok though.  It allows us the time to slow down, enjoy our adventure, and spend some down time together, laughing, playing games, and enjoying every step we take.

After the short hike today, creeping up on our destination for the night, I passed two younger guys with their energetic dog.  Energetic does not quite describe the young pup.  As I approached the young guys, the dog became all excited and sprinted at top speed down the trail towards me.

“Is he friendly?” I asked the two young men.

“Yea,” they shouted down the trail to me.

I smiled as the dog came flying towards me and put out my hand.  He ran up to me, licked my hand, jumped all around me, then sprinted back down the trail towards the men.  I continued towards them as the dog flew past them, hit the breaks, then turned and sprinted past me, a grin on his face ear to flopping ear.  He sprinted back and forth as I continued on my way, the 3 of us laughing at the excitability of this little fuzzy friend.  I took a few moments to chat with the guys as the dog burned off some of his energy.  After a quick chat, I bid them all farewell and continued on my way.

Ratatouille and I arrived at the Tumbling Run Shelter VERY early today.  We set up our sleeping arrangements once again and started to get our dinner ready.  I spent an hour or so reading and snuggled into my sleeping bag.   The weather was a bit colder today, and just relaxing outside was not as comfortable.  As I read, comfortably snuggled in my sleeping back, a couple with their chocolate lap approached.  They introduced themselves to us as the caretakers of this facility, Tanya, Kurt, and their happy, friendly, dog, Moca.  They told us where to find the firewood, and asked that we take care of our fire before we leave as the area has been very dry this summer.  Knowing about the drought that has plagued the east coast this year, and experiencing it ourselves with the limited water sources we have crossed, we informed them we were very experienced and really did not do many fires because of the drought.  We were not even sure we were allowed to have a fire.   We chatted for a while, as they informed us we could have a fire, so eventually we decided to make a fire after all.  I got the fire going as we bid the couple farewell.  They did a fantastic job keeping this shelter clean and beautiful.  Ratatouille and I enjoyed the fire for a little while until we both decided to call it a night.


No Flicker again tonight.  Tomorrow we head for Waynesboro, PA.  The weather is taking a turn for the worst, with potential for snow within the next few days!  We are running as far south as we can, as fast as we can, hopeful that the weather will improve and warm up.  Tonight will be cold, but hopefully tomorrow will be better.  At least we will have somewhere warm to stay tomorrow night!


As the weather becomes colder, and we run farther south, I can feel our perspectives changing.  15 miles a day no longer feels long.  We creep closer and closer to 20 miles a day as we begin to alter our goals during our trip.  We originally planned our journey around taking our time and enjoying our adventure.  Now, we enjoy our adventure, spending most of our days individually alone, and we aim to log more miles. Interested how our perspectives change after 1,100 miles of our trip.

We have officially completed half of our journey and are approaching some epic points of the trail.  In the next week, we will spend Thanksgiving with my family, and cross the psychological halfway point of the trail; the beautiful historic town of Harpers Ferry, WV.  We will also cross into the longest state of the AT; Virginia.  We will be spending 1/4  of our journey as we walk through the state of Virginia.  But until then, thanks for continuing to follow my journey and . . .


Happy Hiking!

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