Weeks 13 & 14: Goodbye South, Goodbye Rocksylvania
Tomorrow I’ll reach Delaware Water Gap and say a fond farewell to the state of Pennsylvania, and by fond I mean I am very happy to say goodbye to Pennsylvania. Hiking north, you’re often warned of the rocks awaiting you in the great state of Pennsylvania. But you say, “Yeah, sure…” (or at least I did) and continue with whatever struggle your currently facing because those rocks are not currently the problem. However as you enter Rocksylvania, Northern Pennsylvania tricks you into believing that those former hikers are overexaggerating. It’s not really that rocky. Sure there are rocks, but it’s not the shoe eating, feet eating rocks that you’ve been warned. You’re lulled by the belief that this state won’t be as bad as warned and that works for awhile, but the rocks increase until you find yourself cursing the ground (or rocks) you walk on and remembering fondly the mountains of the south because while rocky, PA is flat.
I was warned that after Harper’s Ferry, hikers get down to business and life gets faster out here. In a way this is true, as I mentioned PA is flat and for most of the state easy going. You go faster because you can do big miles. In the time since my last post (Harper’s Ferry), I entered and left Maryland, crossed the Mason Dixon line, will have hiked PA (230 miles) in 13 days, crossed the halfway point, crossed the point where I have less than 1,000 miles left, visited the Yuengling Brewery in celebration and hiked my biggest day of 37 miles.
I am by no means a slow hiker. I have friends that started with me that are a week or so behind and I’m hoping to wrap my journey up by the end of August. That being said, I fall into the “smiles not miles” category of thru hikers. Recently the April-ites (my title for hikers that started in April and are logging big miles) have caught up (and more often than not passed). There’s a pressure to hike more, but it’s made me think about what I want out of this journey. For me, it’s the experiences, the random town I got a ride into, chilling at trail magic, taking an afternoon to spend by a beautiful stream, rather than the miles. These are the things I want to take away from my hike. Sure you need to hike the miles to be able to get somewhere, but I want to remember the experiences and the people, not just brag about how I finished the trail in four months. I’m biased, but I feel like you miss something vital with that philosophy. I was told in a recent epic trail magic, “There’s no point in hiking through shit, to say you hiked through shit.” It’s stuck. There’s no point in saying you hiked big miles, just to say you’ve hiked big miles if you skip out on everything else that makes the trail great.
With that being said, I hiked a difficult (I’m tired) 5 miles to Wind Gap, PA. Several months ago my mother met Linda when she came into my parent’s antique store and offered to host me when I came through town. Skip forward several months, Linda offered not only to host me, but several of my friends as well. Cold cuts, brownies, ice cold Cokes and beer. We’re living the hiker dream. Thanks Linda!
Well-fed and clean, I’m ready to ditch this state of Pennsylvania! One more day!
As always I’d like to send a huge thank you to my supporters, Phil and Steve (two section hikers I hiked with out of the Smokies into Hot Springs) who mailed me the dream care package of electrolytes, beer, dried fruit, and cookies.
(As a side note, if you leave cookies in your tent and head into town a mouse might chew a fist-sized hole in your tent to get to said cookies. Oops!) And Debi Mercer, who mailed a package I missed (double oops!)
Love can be mailed to:
Molly Bybee; General Delivery; Fort Montgomery, NY 10922; Please Hold for AT hiker; ETA 07/03
Molly Bybee; 154 E Rocks Rd; Norwalk, CT 06851; ETA 07/06
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