Welcome to the South
We woke early and enjoyed drinking coffee on the porch of the Iron Masters hostel. We set out a little after 7:30AM, leaving everyone else lazing about the couches and tables inside the hostel. Today would be a major milestone and we were ready to do it.
A few miles into our hike, we hit the sign recognizing the AT halfway point in 2011, the year Eric went NOBO and then five short miles later, we made it to the official 2022 halfway point! Wow! It’s exciting to be halfway through our journey and also a bit terrifying to know we are only halfway. Thoughts about the final climb up Springer Mountain in Georgia (the sourthern terminus) creep in. How is it we only have a few months left on trail?
We are without a doubt though, excited that it is starting to feel a lot more like fall. The leaves are starting to change. We enjoyed a refreshing sprinkle of rain as we made our way through southern Pennsylvania.
We stopped at a very nice looking shelter for a long lunch break. The terrain was more of the same but we are relieved the rocks are much less now. We flew through 23 miles with ease and arrived at camp early.
We found a quiet tent site, gathered plenty of wood, and had a nice fire. We spent the nice relaxing and reflecting that we are now closer to Georgia than we are Maine.
We slept soundly and decided to snooze our alarm. Maybe it’s the continuation of big mile days, maybe it’s the comfort of our tent or maybe the cooler weather; whatever the cause, it was a very restful night. We still broke down camp and drank coffee under headlight due to the sun rising later and later.
We got on trail a little after 7:30AM. The group we have been around for the past few days was not planning a big day because tomorrow they will attempt the quad state challenge. This challenge is when thru-hikers traverse from the Pennsylvania border, through Maryland, West Virginia, and into Virginia, completing this 48 mile stretch in 24 hours. We wished them luck on the attempt and will likely see them at some point tomorrow morning as we are pushing on today.
The terrain was again non-descript and we rolled over viewless PUDs. We have enjoyed the PATC’s (Potomac Appalachian Club) sense of humor with the shelters and we’ve enjoyed watching the leaves start to fall slowly around us. Soon these viewless PUDs will be a little less viewless.
The miles flew by as we talked about our exciting upcoming weeks. Tomorrow, we’ll get off trail in Boonsboro to meet Hayley’s aunt and uncle. Thoughts of a soft bed and a nice home cooked meal filled our minds. We might get more ice cream while in town, somehow after eating a half gallon wasn’t enough.
Next week we’ll meet Eric’s Dad in Front Royal, Virginia and then take a double zero in Washington DC. More food, family, and fun activities are planned. We also feel like it might be good to give our legs, ankles and feet a little vacation. Eric’s ankle is still looking a bit swollen and rest might be the only cure.
15 miles into our day we hit another milestone: the Mason-Dixon line. This is also the border into Maryland, our 9th state. Not to mention we are excited to leave the rocks of Pennsylvania behind at last. A few tenths of a mile later we enjoyed nice views from Pen Mar County Park. We also took a long lunch enjoying the quiet of the park.
We strolled into shelter a little before 6:30PM and decided to stay in the shelter. We just were too tired to find a tent spot and set up. The shelter is very nice and spacious with a picnic table right in front. We’re hopeful to have the place to ourselves so we don’t have to be quiet when the early alarm goes off. Staying in the shelter also allows us to pack up quickly in the morning. We ate our ramen noodles and dreamed about the dinner we would be eating in just 24 hours.
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