Maryland Border to Everett: Days 1-3 on the Mid State Trail
There was no Springer Mountain this time. There was no Mid State Trail sign, no “START HERE”, or even a large, friendly arrow.
Instead, there was a blue “Welcome to Pennsylvania” road sign, a turkey displaying his feathers at us, a couple of cows, and a wooden structure that said “keep out.”
With a cheery “see you in New York!” we said goodbye to my dad, who had been kind enough to take us all the way to the Middle Of Nowhere, and started walking north.
Over the Drainage and Through the Woods
After a mile of asphalt and gravel roads, the trail made an abrupt turn over a drainage and straight up the steep hill of a farm field. No footpath in sight, only blazes to follow. The journey had begun.
It was certainly not the AT. With our pants tucked into our long socks, we slogged through a brushy ridgetop, over old forest roads in the rain, and stumbled into a little spot marked “Campsite”, soaked and utterly enchanted.
A few barred owls and a continuous rain lulled us to sleep. There was no shelter, and no snoring thru-hikers. Finally, the woods again.
It still didn’t feel like a thru-hike yet. Just as repeatedly losing your keys doesn’t teach you to put them away where they’re supposed to be, telling myself “we’ll be walking for a full month” didn’t convince me that we would be walking for a full month.
The day began with a climb to the high point of the MST, at 2,720 feet. Naturally, it warmed up enough for us to take off our rain jackets, just in time for a hail storm.
As we crested the top of the knob, we threw our packs down to put our rain jackets back on – just in time for the hail to stop.
Much of the morning was spent on lovely rolling terrain next to streams. After climbing out of Rainsburg Gap, we stayed on a ridge for the rest of the afternoon.
The ridgetop is the signature of the Mid State Trail, and in the Everett region, it’s characterized by blaze-to-blaze hiking with little to no footpath in between.
While I might have found it frustrating a couple years ago, I find that the extra dash of adventure gives the MST its irreplaceable charm.
Hiker Count: 1
The other part of its charm is the sheer loneliness.
A space of several weeks separates each hiker’s entry in trail registers. We saw one hiker stumbling over the deserted ridge as we slathered cream cheese on bagels at a break, but have seen no one since.
Far from being too lonely, it has a way of waking me up and making me appreciate the surroundings. They say that we thru-hike for the people, but this is a forest-lover’s trek.
This morning we began hiking by 7:00 am to beat some of the rain. We continued our ridge walk from the previous day and began descending into the valley.
It was a mud slide of a hike. The MST dumped us out on another lovely forest road, and then a gravel State Gameland road, and then onto asphalt. The highway accompanied us all the way to town, and we passed behind a large billboard.
Everett is small. It’s one of those towns that hasn’t changed since the year 1960. It isn’t terribly accustomed to hikers yet, and it showed when we stumbled into Marteen’s Family Diner, shivering, tired, and soaked to the bone.
Every patron in the diner turned to look at us with our dripping wet backpacks, bewildered at the smelly homeless people. Without a care in the world, we sat down and ordered chili.
We spent much of the day in the laundromat, charging electronics and drying out wet socks. Guthook said there was a free campsite in Tenley Park, just outside of town, as long as we sent the right email to the right person.
So here we are, dodging the rain in a shelter that we have all to ourselves – someone’s 2018 Eagle Scout project. Tomorrow we’ll climb back up to the wild ridges and continue the slog.
Everett has been a friendly town with friendly people. A big thanks to everyone who tolerated our stench and bottomless appetites.
It feels wonderful to have a pack on again. It also feels great to have spicy Cheezits and chocolate chip cookies in my food bag, as well as a full stomach. Whatever the trail throws, I’m ready.
Bring it on, MST.
If you’d like, you can watch the corresponding vlog here. I’m new to making videos, so don’t worry. They’re really terrible. Enjoy.
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