It’s been a while since my last blog post so I’ll try to catch everyone up on what happened. Lets see… after posting previous blog post in Harpers Ferry I found out that my care package was still not in. It would only come in the next day in the evening. With that in mind I had to make a decision, stay in town all day and do nothing or go to D.C. I found out that Matterhorn and Fritz were going too so I joined in. There is a local train that took us straight into D.C. for $11.
Boy did we stand out! It’s funny seeing people giving us double-takes all the time. Everyone was giving us these confused looks because they have no idea how to categorize us. Usually you can look at a person and see that they are a local business man, tourist or something. We just didn’t fit in with the D.C crowds. Scruffy, beards, large backpacks…
It’s funny that I thought D.C. would be a nice time to rest up. It was the exact opposite. We spent all day walking around exploring museums. I think I did more walking there than on the AT! My favorite museum was the Air and Space.
This place is HUGE! There are rockets, space capsules, nuclear missiles from cold war, airplanes and much much more. I could spend a whole week in that one museum alone. Definitely best museum in the world in my opinion.
We also went to American History Museum. Honestly this place should simply be called ‘The War Museum’. They had every kind of weaponry throughout the era and helicopters inside there.
The Natural Science Museum was super cool. Loads of animals from all over the world. I wish I could stay there several days and read all the info plaque about the critters.
D.C was very neat in the sense that all the museums and monuments are free to visit. There is so much awesome history in this place. But boy was I glad to be out of the city the next day. Talk about sensory overload! Cars honking, engines roaring, people yelling. Everything is so loud and fast moving. You might laugh but us hikers have become sensitive creatures of the forest where everything moves at a slow quiet walking speed.
I eventually got my care package and took off down the trail. Maryland was really neat. The trail is very well maintained and is flat and easy to walk on for the most part. On my first day in Maryland I came across Dave. He is a local that was walking to Annapolis Cliffs. After talking to him for a bit he invited me to go climbing with him. I was totally stoked! We climbed some of the best routes Maryland has to offer.
Spidy in his element!
The next day I was moving along the trail when I ran into a couple of guys climbing some smaller cliffs. I couldn’t believe my luck when they invited me to climb with them. 2 days in a row!
I didn’t get too much hiking done but it was totally worth it!
The AT Museum is between Harpers Ferry and Boiling Springs PA.
This is a small place that holds loads of info on the first Thru-hikers to ever finish the trail. These guys averaged 70 lb packs!!! The average base weight out here with food and water is 30 lbs. The most memorable hiker was Bill Irwin.
He wrote a book, Blind Courage, this is on my list of must read books now. This man is a true hero for accomplishing such a daunting task while blind.
I eventually got to Boiling Springs. It just happened that I was there in time for a giant festival “Founder’s Day” in this little village. Kelly runs the ATC and asked if I could stick around for half day and talk to the locals. She was hoping I could educate them about the AT and enlighten them in a way. I was like “sure!” So that’s exactly what I did. Boy did I feel like a celebrity! Everyone usually had the same response: “You hiked from Georgia?! And you are going to Maine?!! WOW!”. Hahah! I was like a Trail-ebrity if you will. I’m not used to such attention but I could get used to it!
I kept trekking on and got to the Doyle Hotel. It’s a hiker tradition to stay at this place.
Do you remember those old western movies where the cowboys walk into the bar/casino? Well, that’s exactly the same vib I got from this place. It’s an old western style hotel inside and out. The quality was not great by any means but I couldn’t complain.
I split the room rate with Trillium and Rogue. Rogue has the coolest stache. It’s naturally half white- thus his trail name. They have a blog that you can follow also:
Everything was great until I reached the dreaded second half of PA. I’ve heard rumors of this treacherous stretch of trail and they all ended up being true!
The overgrown brush causes a serious problem, ticks and poison ivy. The brush is a tick haven which isn’t good for us. PA has the highest rate of Lyme Disease for hikers and I believe this is the main reason. Oh, the poison ivy is everywhere! I used to follow the rule, ‘leaves of 3 let it be’ but now I have a new rule. ‘If it is green and has leaves, it’s probably poison ivy.’
No one told me the trail would walk thru a swamp. I guess its because of the constant rain the past 5 days. Yesterday I hiked for hours in this watery/muddy/goo none stop. It’s nasty. But this has actually taught me a valuable lesson. Hikers usually dread the rain. We don’t like it because our gear gets wet and the trail gets nasty. But there are others out there like Farmers for instance that anticipate the rain for a good crop turnout. You always have to be thankful for the good and bad things in life because what may be bad for you, may be a good thing for someone else.
I just keep telling myself ‘100 more miles and I’m out of PA!’.
On a side note I do want to mention that a lot of hikers have dropped out. The ATC estimates 60% of the usual crowd is gone. There are a lot of reasons why people quit but a couple stand out. Many people have lost what they call the “charm and fun” of hiking. They expected the whole experience to be an exciting time with new adventures around every bend. But that’s not the case. The honeymoon phase of hiking has worn off for all of us. We still have lots of fun but we must get past the daily grind first.
The grind is this: Our feet are always hurting and sore. We are always either sweaty and stinky from the humidity and heat or wet from rain. Occasional blisters from walking in wet shoes all day. Chaffing around my hip belt area because of sweating and rubbing. Poison Ivy on my body. Mosquito bites on arms and legs. Food boredom from eating the same general food all day. And the list goes on and on.
But this is not a reason to quit in my opinion. When the going gets tough, you have to put effort into whatever the task may be and finish what you started. This trail is like life in the sense that new relationships, new jobs, new hobbies are always fun and exciting in the beginning. However, as time passes on, the honeymoon phase of that particular thing will wear off and you must persevere and finish the task at hand. This builds character.
I know that even though PA is tough and tearing my feet up, there are better days ahead. The White Mountains promise to revive that childlike energy in all of us that we once had when starting in Springer Mountain.
As of right now I’m in Hamburg, PA. Yesterday I had and awesome time with locals at the Union House Bed & Breakfast. Mark and his wife even payed for my meal! Great food, good company.
Well, I’m going to find a place to eat around here, do laundry, hitch a ride back to the trail and keep you guys posted on my whereabouts soon.