I’m writing from Harper’s Ferry, WV. I’ve passed through four states since my last blog and we have a lot to catch up on!
First, I finished my thru hike last night! I hiked into Harper’s Ferry at 9:45pm after a long 31.2 mile day(which ended up being closer to 34 miles because I hiked out to get beer and icecream from a 7-11, worth it).
I’m equal parts excited, tired, and relieved. My feet are bruised. My legs are stiff and my joints feel arthritic. I’m happy that the long days of non stop hiking are over and that I won’t have to wake up in 20 degree temperatures anymore.
Honestly I thought I’d feel more… feelings… but I think I’m just worn out. I’ve covered 750 miles in the last month and a half. That pace grinds you down. That’s why I haven’t blogged for a while. Just too tired. Hiking the trail is a lot more work then you’d think – even the off days. Between laundry, resupply, and packing in calories you have very little energy to spare for anything else.
I’ll take you on a photo tour of the last month and then write a more detailed wrap-up when I have access to a keyboard again. Holy gods I’m going to be so happy to write with a keyboard and not my phone.
This is from the Blue Mountain Ridge in PA just outside of Palmerton. It’s a hillside that was deforested by a zinc plant and has a Southwest desert feel. I really enjoyed the views from the ridge even though it was caused by horrible toxic pollution. Silver lining I suppose.
In a span of five days I got to stay in three homes. First the Dooleys in Palmerton(read the whole story on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BM2dAqvBtDB/ ). Then John and Nancy took me in and shared venison and home brews. I met John(Raven) in Virginia during our fourth of July celebration. The day after that Mary Beth took me in and fed me chili and we had a wonderful conversation on some esoteric topics. I met Mary Beth down in Franklin, NC when she was hiking with her friend Dawn. It was a much needed and very welcome respite from the cold.
Pennsylvania really is full of rocks like everyone says. It’s frustrating because the rocks force you to slow down and carefully pick a meandering path. If you picture a drunk who takes steps of varying strides and often stumbles then you have a fairly accurate picture of what it’s like to go through the PA rock fields. Annoying. Frustrating. Painful.
But the rocks thin out after the northern portion of PA. This is the Cumberland valley, a nice flat 17 mile stretch that winds through farmland. I loved it. Flat, easy, no rocks.
I passed an old old cemetery in the middle of nowhere. It was a small plot, with maybe a dozen headstones dating from the early 1800s. It’s interesting to walk through these historic locations.
The halfway marker! With the sun setting at five I’ve had to hike 2-3 hours in the dark everyday. Shortly after this marker I came to my shelter for the evening to find a group of a dozen people there deep frying a turkey.
They were horrible. They stayed up past midnight drinking, smoking, and talking loudly with no regard to anyone trying to sleep.
See, it wasn’t hyperbole. I met this hunter in the morning as he was dragging his kill back to his vehicle.
The original Washington Monument.
Honestly I have no idea how my feet get so dirty as I never go barefoot but they’re always like this after a few days on trail. I still have all my toenails, hooray! Reading about other people losing their nails sounded horrible.
I’ve heard others describe the end of their trips as bittersweet. Not me. I’m 100% content to be off trail. No doubt winter plays a large part.
I can’t wait to get home. Thank you for following along and for your words of encouragement. This journey has made me realize how deeply interconnected we all are. I didn’t do this alone and couldn’t have done it alone. All the volunteers who maintain the trail, the trail angels, the hostel owners, the friends and family back home and fellow hikers all had a hand in making this hike. Thanks everyone!!
Oh that reminds me – Bear is still on trail and only 200 miles from finishing. He’s going to make it! I’ll write more on the other hikers I met along the way when I get home.
Thanks for reading have a great week!