Pennsylvania rocks

Day 88:

AWFUL night sleep. Truly truly horrendous. Worst on trail? Probably not because of the second night, but this was pretty damn close. I just tossed and turned and turned and tossed. And had some really weird dreams too. But I kept trying to sleep until I finally stop fighting it at like 6. I think I managed a few hours somewhere in there, but nothing substantial.

I left camp around 7:45, with a 23 mile day in front of me. This has become pretty typical for us recently, so I knew oretty well what I was getting myself into. What I did NOT know apparently was where the trail was, cause it took me like 20 minutes to find my way back from the shelter to the trail. After that short snaffu, I was truly under way.

The morning was rocky. Really really rocky. What kind of rocks? Oh you name it, we had it. Gravel? Check. Scree? Check. Giant boulders? Check. Giant boulders that moved and tried to throw you off when you stepped on them? Unfortunately also check. It was tough going. But it went, as every other part of this trail has. By 8:30 I hit mile 1200! Another big milestone down. And I am not OFFICIALLY within 1000 miles of Katahdin. Triple digits. What a feeling. Truly truly incredible.


The path evened out after a few hours, become steadily less rocky and more smooth. That’s when I sped up. Not because I wanted too, or felt I needed to, but that’s just my normal hiking pace now. I guess I didn’t realize, cause we were so much on rocks or up and down, but my “normal” walking speed had definitely gotten faster. Which is to be expected, but still kinda nice. It feels like a lot of hard work paying off.

A little bit after lunch, the forest conditions changed. I passed a sign that said “caution, prescribed burn area.” How exciting! And you know what burn area means. FERNS! Lots and lots of ferns! And lots and lots of ferns there were. Knee high once again, and incredibly close to the trail, so I was walking through them basically the whole afternoon. On the one hand, I do very much enjoy the feeling of plants on my legs. On the other it’s like a ticks biggest dream, so I was a little worried about it. Guess I gotta do an extra check tonight.

Immediately before the town I was going into tonight, there was a steep downhill. And I mean STEEP. Like 45 degrees steep. Not helped by the fact that the entire hill was scree (small, loose rock), so I thought I was gonna slip and fall on my butt the whole time. But I made it safe. And then crossed the train track, took a hard right, and walked to the pavilion in town where hikers are freely allowed to camp. I love that towns do this, it’s really lovely. I met Lindsey and Imom there, and we hung around and chatted for a while.

Eventually Lindsey and I decided to catch a shuttle over to walmart to do a quick resupply. We went with Marathon, who showed up a little after me. And after our walmart trip? We made a return to Lindsey and I’d homeland: Wawa! Oh my god I haven’t had wawa in forever! And you know what? It was great. I loved it. Great dinner, snacks, dessert, all of it. It was like a taste of home.

I also stole a stop sign lmao

After we got back from wawa, it was a pretty standard rest of the night. Except Marathon and I threw a frisbee for a while! It was quite lovely. I haven’t thrown a frisbee for a long time. My arm will probably be sore in the morning, but it’s so worth it.

Im wiped today. Just so so tired. Im really excited to sleep. But this was the first time in a long time that I felt tired and didn’t have a really bad day as a result, which was nice. Good stuff. I don’t have the brain power for any other thoughts.

Quote of the day: “You are STANDING ON THE TABLE”

Today I am grateful for balance, luck, and most of all, wawa.

Day 89:

Considering that I slept next to a road, a train track, with a streetlight shining into the pavilion, I’m shocked by how well I slept. Maybe I was just so tired that I had no choice. But I hope that the bad sleeping is behind me, at least for now. I made hot breakfast for the first time in a WHILE, it was very good. And even so, I still got out pretty early, like 7:10. It was a longish day, so I was ready to go.

The day started off well enough. There was a little bit of a climb out of town, but it was over soon enough. Honestly, the harder part was the steep downhill that came immediately after. It was also incredibly buggy, even in the morning. You’d think the little biters and mosquitos are the worst, but honestly the worst things are the gnats that hover about 6 inches in front of your face. And they were there all damn day today.

The interesting part of the morning was when I got, uhhh, lost again. But this time a little more substantially than I had before. I was climbing some rocky section, when all of a sudden I realized I was very much not on trail anymore. Fortunately, there was a clearing with some buildings right ahead, so I headed over there. Eventually I made my way from there back to trail, to an overlook where I found Lindsey! I have zero clue if I shaved miles off my trail, or how much if so, but fortunately I didn’t get super lost so that’s good.

The overlook after I got lost

We stopped at a nice viewpoint right before lunch. We were gonna eat lunch right there, but it was still a little early. It was a nice view, so we hung out for a little while, but wemoved a couple miles up the road for lunch. The place we stopped had a pretty decent view too, so we didn’t miss out on much.

After lunch we got to a pretty cool shelter. It had an enclosed bunkhouse, a shower, places to charge phones, it was lovely. We hung around and napped there for about an hour and a half, I strongly considered showering and laying in the sun to dry out, but I didn’t. Mostly because the bathroom was really really hot. Otherwise I probably would’ve. I hung around a while because I thought “Oh I only have 4 miles, must be quick”. Boy was I WRONG.

The last 4 miles sucked. No hesitation. Awful. Gross. Stinky. It was relatively flat, but just so so so rocky. A distance that should’ve taken me only about 2 hours ended up taking me closer to 3 and a half. God it really really sucked. The worst part was this one area where there was a big old rock pile, which sure looked like it had a view on the other side. I climbed it, expecting a view. Except there WAS NONE. there were trees in the way. I was upset about it. I didn’t have the energy to waste on that, but I trudged on.

Thats the rock pile i climbed, with ZERO VIEW

The rest of the day was standard. Food, tent, etc etc. It’s not a crowded shelter, but there was a decent crowd here so we had plenty of company. Tomorrows a much shorter day, so I can chill out in the morning. And boy oh boy am I excited for that.

I’m getting bored again, to be so honest. Pennsylvania ain’t exactly the most thrilling area in the world. The views are pretty decent, but it’s literally the same view from like every so slightly different angles. And it’s all so flat. Plus the rocks make it so I can’t even look around into the forest, which is the really pretty part of the area. It’s annoying. But I guess this is part of the mental challenge of the trail, especially for this section.

Quote of the day: “I just want a nap”

Today I’m grateful for my quads, baby powder, and wawater.

Day 90:

Well, after about 2.5 weeks of 20+ mile days (not counting zeros and side quests), it finally happened. We’re finally doing a day under 20 miles! And that means I can sleep in! Not that that’s really a thing I can do anymore, but I sure can try. I didn’t get up until 7!!! And I still managed to leave camp by 7:30. Curse my morning efficiency.

The first part of the day was short and quick. I had a resupply box to pick up 4 miles from where we camped last night, so I made it over there in about 2 hours. Did I decide to sit there and hang out for an hour and a half? Absolutely I did. And I do not regret it in the slightest. After all, what rush am I in??? Where do I have to be today?? But around 11 I decided I should probably get going. Approximately 30 seconds after getting back in trail I ran into someone who told me that there was a thunderstorm of “biblical proportions” rolling in that afternoon. That was enough to kick my but into high gear.

So yeah, I went fast the next oh, 8 miles or so? Or at least, I tried to. Unfortunately, we are still in Pennsylvania, which means rocks. And that means slow. But it only took me another hour and a half to reach the first shelter, about 5 miles up. And I only had 7.5 miles left to go on the day! I stopped quickly to toss on my packs rain cover. It was drizzling on and off, not enough for me to put my rain jacket on, but enough to not want my sleeping bag to be wet. And off I was again.

You’re telling me this is supposed to be a trail?

If I thought the first part of the day was rocky, I hadn’t seen NOTHING yet. The next 5 miles we’re cliff walking, except it was just giant boulder pile after giant boulder pile. Up and down and up and down. It was kind of a fun mental challenge, even if it did hurt my feet. But there was an extra challenge added today. Not only are the rocks at an angle that could roll and ankle just by standing not it, not only do the shift around and try to literally throw you off, but now they’re WET too! Steps that were sketchy before became impossible now. There was more than one slide that made me think I was gonna snap a trekking pole, or my ankle. I did fall a couple times. It was certainly type 2 fun. But fun it was, in the end.

You’re telling me THIS IS A TRAIL????

For the last 3 miles or so I broke into a much smoother ridge line, surrounded by pine forest. It honestly felt like hiking in Massachusetts, which was a lovely little reminder of some on my childhood summers. And it went by pretty quickly too. By 4 I was at the shelter. Now here was the problem. The shelter only hold 6. There were already 7 of us there, with at least 2 more coming. And it was starting to rain.

I decided, for wholly selfless reasons, to push on 0.3 miles to a campsite that may or may not be there (absolutely not true, by the way I just didn’t want to be crammed into a shelter). I found the alleged campsite literally just in time. No sooner had I set up my tent and crawled inside than the biblical rainstorm started. Guinness, who had joined me at the campsite, said “I’m gonna crawl in my tent and not leave.” I agreed. And I didn’t! I cooked, ate, and hung out in my tent the whole rest of the night. Literally until bedtime.

I had a really strong feeling as I was walking away from the shelter. It was like, almost guilt? But not quite. I don’t really have a name for it. But I do know where it comes from. I’ve always been a pretty independent person, and I like to be on my own a lot. But for some reason that isolation comes with a strong feeling of loneliness. Shocking right? I’m lonely when I’m alone.

And yet, I’m sure I would have been just as, if not MORE uncomfortable to stay at the shelter with that many people. So then why can’t I just be comfortable on my own? I don’t know. I think part of it is I worry I’m missing out on the community aspect of being out here. But for some reason I just can’t always bring myself to stick around. I just wish I could feel comfortable with one or the other, not uncomfortable with both.

Quote of the day: “You’re going for that tent site? You BASTARD!”

Today I’m grateful for good traction, talenti, and blueberries.

Day 91+2+3:

Ok, I’m gonna be so honest, i’ve had ZERO motivation to journal the past couple days. So here’s some quick hits instead!

⁃ Met Karen and Sabra for some hiking/camping! Truly truly wonderful to see them, and spend time hiking with them

⁃ SAW A BEAR!!! only took 3 months

Bear spotted!

⁃ Almost lost our bear hang because we went to hang stuff after dark (we found it in the end!)

⁃ Had a slug infestation in my tent in the morning

⁃ SPRINTED 22 miles to get out of Pennsylvania (thank god)

Bye Pennsylvania! See you never!

⁃ Met an old REI coworker on the trail??? That was funny

⁃ Got picked up by my parents, went home to spend the night and zero

⁃ Ate lots of good food

⁃ Went to REI to refuel and see old friends!

⁃ Had a lovely time hanging out at home. This is probably gonna be the hardest zero to get back on the trail from

Sorry there’s nothing more in depths, but honestly I just got behind and wasn’t feeling it. I’ll get back to it (and the trail) tomorrow!

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Comments 1

  • thetentman : Jun 18th

    Great post.

    Good luck!


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