WV to Boiling Springs

Ok, folks. I know it’s been forever (or 2 months… same thing, right?!) since my last post. Let’s just say I decided it was time to focus more on hiking and enjoying the experience, and less on documenting the experience. Which isn’t to say I didn’t take notes and journal entries. But now that I have completed my hike (spoiler alert!), am off-trail and jobless for the moment, I have some time to try to catch everyone up! So here goes…

Day 104 – Blackburn AT Center to Harpers Ferry
Miles: 11.9

We slept in a little this morning. The little cabin at the Blackburn Center was actually fairly comfortable and it was nice to have a relaxed morning. We were on trail by 8:30 and the hike out was the typical rocky trail. The heat was more of a limiting factor than anything, with it being a very hot day. By the time we walked into Harpers Ferry at 3, we were both dehydrated and our legs were feeling the pain of the hills. We headed straight for the ATC Headquarters, and took the obligatory “ATC Picture”. I was NOBO #1301. Not a bad number. Bookie was stressed by some post office errors. Apparently, her resupply box never arrived. Shortly after arriving, my girlfriend arrived to pick me up. We dropped Bookie and Star at her hotel and headed for home, making a side-trip to REI to replace my leaking sleeping pad. While I had thought it would be good to be home, I didn’t sleep well and the whole experience was a tad more stressful than I had expected.

Harpers Ferry

Harpers Ferry

Day 105 – Thurmont

Miles: 0

I slept in this morning, after a fairly restless night. The little woman and I went to Gettysburg for breakfast, and then decided to catch a movie. It was a nice, relaxing morning. Bookie caught a ride up to my town with her friend, and we walked to the grocery store for resupply. It was a tad odd being in my own town without a car and having to walk everywhere. Bookie wanted to cook dinner, which was really good, and then we watched a movie on my laptop before going to bed. I’ll be glad to get back on trail, though, as the interaction between friend and girlfriend is not always civil.

Day 106 – Harpers Ferry to Rocky Run Shelter
Miles: 16

We caught our ride back to Harpers Ferry early, and were on trail by 8:45. Unfortunately, it was a very hot and humid day, so the hiking was slow. We walked through Historic Harpers Ferry, crossed into Maryland, and then hiked along the C&O Canal Tow Path. Talk about a boring walk. Thankfully, the trail ducked back into the woods and the shade. We took a very long lunch at the Ed Garvey Shelter to let Star cool off. The heat seems to be really getting to her more than to us. My knee felt ok for most of the day, only hurting the last mile or two. I was surprised how rocky the trail was. I’ve hiked in Maryland a lot, but never on the A.T., and this trail was much rockier than the others I’ve been on. We walked into the shelter at 7 and did our best to wash off and cool down at the amazing water supply. There was a group of SOBOs there, whom we chatted with while cooking dinner and swatting mosquitoes. It was still extremely warm at bedtime, which never bodes will for sleep.

Crossing into Maryland

Crossing into Maryland

Day 107 – Rocky Run Shelter to Ensign Cowall Shelter
Miles: 15.7

As I predicted, it was warm all night long, and I did not sleep well at all. We were up by 6 and on the trail by 7:30. We met my friend Natalie at Washington Monument State Park, where she brought us Pepsi, bananas and apples! Such amazing trail magic. We sat and talked with her for almost two hours, and while we would probably regret not hiking in the cooler morning air, it was great to catch up with a good friend. After we hiked on, we took a short break at Annapolis Rocks, and talked to the Ridge Runner there for a bit. The trail today was mostly ok, with some rocks, some areas of mud, and some decent trail. I have been resisting the “draw” of town all day, and feel if I go back into town, I won’t get back on trail. The trail got real rocky the last three miles or so before the shelter, which made the knee start hurting some. We walked into the shelter at 6:30, and took care of the typical camp chores before it got dark. I never anticipated how hard it would be to be hiking so close to home and know that going into town would be a bad idea. Bookie and I have begun to discuss a leap-frog of sorts more seriously, to get me away from here, to get us all into cooler weather, and to make sure we get to Katahdin before the mountain closes.

My good friend Natalie!

My good friend Natalie!

The Washington Monument

The Washington Monument

Day 108 – Ensign Cowall Shelter to Deer Lick Shelters
Miles: 14.5

We slept in a little today. It wasn’t great sleep, but it wasn’t bad, either. But Bookie seems to be moving in real slow motion today. As the day progressed, it turned hot and humid, but not as horrible as it has been the past few days. We took a half hour break at Raven Rock, then hiked to the Raven Rock Shelter for another long lunch. I can’t seem to drink enough water and it’s starting to worry me how dehydrated I am. After lunch, we took a side trail up to High Rock, a place I know well. It was odd to walk up to a place I have been to a ton, but always on my motorcycle. We stopped for half an hour at Pen Mar Park, to enjoy some shade in one of the pavilions there. We crossed the Mason-Dixon line and entered into Pennsylvania! Another state down. I met my girlfriend at the Rt-16 crossing, and Bookie hiked on to the shelter to give us a little time to talk. We spent an hour catching up, which was really great, but it was difficult to leave. It felt about the same as when I had to walk away from Kamikaze back in Hot Springs, but worse because I didn’t know when I would see her again. I got to camp a little after 7, to find Bookie had cooked dinner already. I tried to relax by the emotions of the day had caught up with me and I wasn’t in the mood to socialize with the other hikers at the shelter. I pretty much ate dinner, set up my tent, and went to bed.

The "green tunnel" extends over the highways, too.

The “green tunnel” extends over the highways, too.

High Rock, in all its spray painted glory.

High Rock, in all its spray painted glory.

photo 3

Day 109 – Deer Lick Shelters to US-30
Miles: 13.2

Last night was a cool night for a change, so I slept great! We were up at a decent time and got on trail by 8. I felt really out of it this morning, though, lost in my head and in thought. The hike was a mix of rocks and nice trails, with some big rocks scrambles thrown in for fun. It all made it hard to find a rhythm. Thankfully, though, the weather was perfect for hiking – a cool breeze, warm but not hot, lower humidity than we’ve had in days. Absolutely gorgeous. Days like today make me thankful I am on trail, even if my mind isn’t present in the moment. We swung into Antietam Shelter for five minutes to check the logbook. It was a nice campsite between two streams, but the shelter wasn’t anything special. We hiked on the couple miles to Tumbling Run Shelters – yes, plural – and found an exact opposite! Two shelters, one marked for “snorers”, the other for “non-snorers”, with a nice covered picnic area between the two and beautiful tent sites surrounding the shelters. It was amazing, looking like an established campground. If it hadn’t been so early, I would’ve suggested we stay there, but there was more trail to hike. We took a half hour break before climbing the killer hill up to Chimney Rocks, and then another twenty minute break at the top to rest. My knee started to hurt about 2 miles before our end point, Rt-30, but knowing we were getting picked up and taken into town made it bearable. Bookie’s friend, Carly, picked us up and took us to her home, where we showered, did laundry, and then were taken to dinner at a small Mexican restaurant by her and her husband, Jake. What an amazing evening. Great food, great conversation, great people. Definitely needed the break.

Day 110 – US-30 to Toms Run Shelter
Miles: 16.2

I slept great last night! We had a quick start to the day, which is unusual for us. Carly took us to the grocery store to resupply, then to breakfast before dropping us at the trail. We said our goodbyes and hiked into the Caledonia State Park, briefly stopping to fill water and use the facilities. It was another beautiful day to hike, with mild temps and low humidity. We took a short break at Quarry Gap Shelter – which was another amazing shelter! Two shelters, again, with a covered picnic table in between, all under one roof. There were lots of PUDs today, though, so the hiking was tiring, even though the terrain was varied, with some rocky parts and some nice pine needle dirt trail parts. We crossed the official halfway point for 2015, which was worthy of dropping the packs and taking a few pics. It finally feels like we are making some headway into this trail! We reached the shelter by 7, making for a not too bad day at all, even though there weren’t any real views today.

The selfie-struggles are real for some!

The selfie-struggles are real for some!

Day 111 – Toms Run Shelter to Alec Kennedy Shelter
Miles: 19

We were up early this morning, enjoying the cool temperatures, and even though Bookie was moving slow again, we were on trail by 7:30. We got to Pine Grove Furnace State Park at 9, but decided to not do the half-gallon challenge, due to our planned mileage for the day. But the food was amazing, so I don’t feel like I missed anything. And we saw Beepa in the park! We hadn’t seen him since we were in the Shenandoah Mountains. Today’s hike was boring, with lots of viewless hills, but the weather was enjoyable again. We took an extended lunch at James Fry Shelter, then hiked into the “Rock Maze”. Even though it was tiring, and my knees were sore, it was fun, scrambling over and around boulders. We got to camp at 7, set up, filtered water and cooked dinner. There’s some tension between Bookie and I, and our future hiking together may be limited.

Day 112 – Alec Kennedy to Boiling Springs to Connecticut
Miles: 3.9

We slept in a little again. Seems our mornings have become lazy, although we also knew there wasn’t far to go. We were on trail by 7:40, and walked into Boiling Springs by 10. We stopped at the post office to get our packages, then wandered down to Café 101 for breakfast. If you’re ever in Boiling Springs, stop at Café 101 – amazing food at a coffee house. While we were eating, we saw Older Dog! He was in town to get back on trail after he took some time off to let his leg heal. It was great to catch up with him. Bookie’s friend Sarah shuttled us up to Connecticut, to start our leapfrog. Our plan is to go to Rikki Tikki’s house in Connecticut today, then have him shuttle us to Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts, tomorrow, and continue our hike northbound from there to Mt. Katahdin. Sarah was on her way back to New Hampshire anyways, and it just worked out for us to catch a ride up with her. It was a long day in a small car, but for a free ride up, I can’t complain too much. She took us straight to Rikki Tikki’s house. Twice in one day, it was great to see Trail Family again! When we got there, we did “doggie introductions” with Star and Rikki Tikki’s two dogs., then we headed to the UCONN campus for dinner at Dog Lane Café. Another great place to eat. In fact, if I lived closer, I would probably hang out there a lot. After dinner, we stopped at the Dairy Bar for ice cream that is made on campus by the students. It was amazing food, all around. We went back to the house, each got our showers, caught up on trail gossip, and headed to bed a lot later than anyone planned.

(L to R) Older Dog, Bookie holding Star, and me.

(L to R) Older Dog, Bookie holding Star, and me.

The inside of Dog Lane Café.

The inside of Dog Lane Café.

For now, that will have to do.  I have the remainder of my trip in editing right now, I promise!  Thank you for your patience and support.  And remember to always Spin the Compass!

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