Day 44 – Greta Goes Hiking

We don’t stop hiking because we grow old – we grow old because we stop hiking. –Finis Mitchell

Miles hiked 17.5-by noon.

Started out this morning at 5:30 AM. I’m back to walking in my old trail runners. The new hiking shoes I bought are just too small. After hiking over 30 miles in them I know they’re too small. They make my big toe literally go numb.

Today was all about walking. There were no views, no people, nothing really special about today except the end.

The trail was about the same throughout the day. Some of the trail was nice some had rocks.

The one thing that I can tell you about today is the gnats drove me absolutely crazy. They would flip around my eyes and land in the corners until I reached up and killed them. Nothing like dragging dead bugs from your eyes. Even though it was very shady I finally put on my sunglasses to keep the gnats away from my eyes. Then they decided they liked my ears. Buzz buzz buzz.

I could not handle that either, so then I grabbed my buff, put it around my ears and went into a total Greta Garbo impersonation.  This helped keep the bugs away from both my eyes and my ears, unfortunately it was very very hot.

I had one short meadow today that was actually nice to walk in after being so enclosed by the trail all day. And then I had my first log crossing of water. I love this kind of stuff. I nimbly crossed this log and jumped down at the end. This is the stuff I live for.

At the end of my hike today I had to pass over this cool bridge. I love bridges!

Hugh was waiting at the end. Tonight we’re going to the campground so we can get some laundry done and empty tanks.

Happy trails!

Day 43 -Woodland Princess!

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to hike in the rain. -Unkown

Mile hike today 17.2.

Started walking today at 5:45 AM. First part of the walk was finishing walking through town. I walked about halfway through town on my way in and met Hugh.

I had two very cool bridge crossings. When you are in the car you don’t really think about crossing a bridge. But when you do it on foot everything amazes you.  How tall it is, the engineering in it, how fast the cars are, how far it is to the water.

It always tickles my funny bone to see where they put the white blazes when you go through town. 99% of people probably just ignore them. They are all important to hikers.

I then had to cross over three railroad tracks. See Hugh’s blog for more on the tracks!

After the bridge crossings it was time to climb. My first stop was for breakfast at a beautiful view overlooking the town and the rivers below. I know I say it almost every day, but I love this part of the day!

Then it was time to boulder. Pennsylvania has some large rocks! Sometimes you just have to put your poles away and go for it.

My second view of the day came out of powerline. I had to climb up the ridge to get a look from that other side too.

My legs are tired today. Not sure why, could be because of my long day yesterday. Regardless, they’re tired, so I’m not moving at a fast clip today. I’m also setting short goals for myself like the next view, or the next powerline. When I’m tired I tend to fall. I fell yesterday around mile 21 going down the stone steps landed on my butt and bruised my thigh pretty good. Today I placed my foot on a rock and it just slipped right out because the rock was wet. It got my forearm pretty good – I’ll have a nice bruise. Pennsylvania is roughing me up a bit. So far in total I’ve had four falls – 2 in Pennsylvania. As falls go I’m on the lower side of most people.  I know Linda has had 13. And back when I was walking with a full pack I walked with some nurses and they had each fallen over 14 times so I’m feeling pretty good overall.

The walk along the ridge was a nice one. There were some rocks, but it was doable. Once again I was swarmed by butterflies. About 20 of them circled around me and followed me for about six or seven steps and then flittered away. I’m not sure if it’s because I smell bad, or maybe I smell good. There is one more possibility – that I’m at Woodland princess that was adopted by my mom and dad out of the goodness of their hearts so I wouldn’t have to be raised by wolves. I like the last one.

As extra proof to the Woodland princess theory this little beauty let me get very close to take a picture of her. I don’t think Snow White could’ve done any better.

There were two more stunning views along my way to get to Hugh.

And then at noon the skies opened up and it rained! It rained, it rained, it rained. For 45 minutes.

When it finally quit, steam was rising from the forest floor and I was totally drenched. Now I know some of you are saying “oh no” right now, but believe me the rain was welcome. It cooled me off perfectly and I wouldn’t have minded if it had gone on longer.

When I got to the meeting place where Hugh was waiting, some lovely people were doing trail magic! Melody and Gene where the wonderful people handing out food. The kindness of people continues to amaze me.

As I was talking to the people who were doing the trail magic none other than Maneater walked up. It was so good to see her again. I had not seen her since the Smokies. She got her name because she out walked all the men.

At the trail magic I also met Mushoom (in another language it means patchy beard). Mushoom is from Overland Park, Kansas!

Small world!

Until tomorrow….

Day 42 – New Kit and Caboodle

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it.” —Jimmy Dugan, A League of Their Own

Miles hike today 23.9

I got a 6 AM start today. I was up at 5:30 but it was raining so I thought I’d let it quit before I hit the trail. This morning I’m walking with a new pack and new shoes!

My old trail runners were just about worn out. I could feel every rock on the trail through their souls. And my pack is a hip pack no need to have a full backpack.

The trail is mostly flat today I’m walking through pasturelands, then some forest and then more pasturelands. That ATC owns these pastures and rents them out to farmers to keep the trail looking like it did years ago.

There are stiles you have to climb over and roads to cross, all in all, a very different Appalachian Trail than what I’ve been on so far.

I will say that I think today has been the worst day for spiderwebs. I have more silk on my face then I have in my pajama drawer back home. But the honeysuckle is ever present and oh so sweet to smell.

The day keep switching back-and-forth between pastures and forest. And then all of a sudden you popped out and there’s a major highway you’re crossing.

Pennsylvania continues to surprise me. I came out of the pasture, crossed the road and now I’m walking alongside a beautiful river on a boardwalk. At 9:17 AM I saw a my first hiker of the day.

At 9:45 I started my first climb of the day. There are three climbs today. After the second climb I find myself in a meadow -again Pennsylvania is just so cool. As I cross the road to enter the meadow, I was swarmed by butterflies-yellow butterflies-so neat to have them swirling around you.

When I got to the top of my last climb I then had a ridge walk for 5 miles I was thinking piece a cake-boy was I wrong! It was a ridge  walk with rocks! Rocksylvania showed her colors today.

On the lighter side of things this particular rock looks like poop. All day long I dodged what I thought was poop until I looked harder. My first thought was why was there so much poop on the trail. Then I realized no poop- just rocks.

As I hit mile 20 of my day I came upon Hawk Rock. I looked down from the trail and it was way down there on a practically vertical slant-and thought do I really want to go down there after 20 miles? Of course I went down and got some great pictures.

After taking my pictures, I climb back up to the trail, it was hard work. Then I continue down the trail, and lo and behold it’s circled back and brought me right in front of Hawk Rock! There had been no need for me to climb down in the first place. It would have been funny if I had not already walked 20 miles.

After Hawk Rock it was downhill to the town of Duncannon, Pennsylvania. These pictures will give you an idea of why they call it Rocksylvania.

I’ve been told we have not hit the really rocky part yet of Pennsylvania. I have to say after today my feet are sore even with my new shoes. Walking on rocks is just no fun, neither is dodging them. Mainly because you can’t dodge them all.


Day 41 – Playground For All

May you build a ladder to the stars. And climb on every rung. May you stay…Forever young -Bob Dylan

Miles hiked today 20.9.

Got up to very early start again at 5:15. Everything was eerily quiet because rain was threatening. As I headed north I passed a lake in the park that was pretty in the early morning hours.

The rain eventually came but it was light. Not enough to put on rain gear. It’s interesting you can hear it start to rain from a long way off as it hits the leaves of the trees. The sound comes toward you much like a sprinkler going across the roof.

My first break was at a blue blaze called Pole Steeple.  I took a .25 mile detour to see the view and climb the rocks – it was worth it. I love having breakfast at spots like these.

Then much to my surprise the trail became a perfect flat trail. I had not seen a smooth trail for a long time. I went in overdrive and set the cruise control. Boy, it was a nice for a half mile or so, you really got to stretch your legs.

Halfway through the smooth trail I came across railroad tracks. I had to smile to myself as I took the picture because I kept thinking of my father telling us to go play on the railroad tracks.

Then it was finally time to start up.  The latter part of my hike consisted of five ups. (I count how many times I have to climb during the day) The first one being the most challenging. So up I went hoping for a view at the top. Alas, no view but what there was was fantastic.

It was a playground!

Of gigantic rocks. Any child would have been delighted to climb on these – I know I was. I climbed and meandered throughout these rocks following the Appalachian Trail having the time of my life.

My last little break was at Center Point Knob where there is a plaque of a hiker. Not much else, no views.

When I came down the last mountain, the trail opened onto pastures. I have to tell you after walking through mountains for days walking through a pasture is really strange. For about 15 minutes I felt like I was back in Kansas.

After the fields, I walked into the town of Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania.

Hugh was waiting for me at the end of this lake. Across the street from the lake was an outfitters and we bought me a new pair of shoes. I also invested in a new hip pack. Most days I don’t need that much since I’m slack packing. Seems silly to carry an entire backpack.

After the outfitters we realize there was a parking place for the RV 2 miles down the trail. So Linda, Mark and I all put back on our shoes and hiked two more miles. This is the last night we will be spending in Linda and Mark’s company. Linda’s sister is coming in to visit with her and I’m hiking on. It has been great hanging with Linda and Mark!

Happy trails to them.

Day 40 – We All Scream for Ice Cream

Don’t be scared to walk alone. Don’t be scared to like it. – John Muir

Miles height 19.9.

I had an early start at 5:30 AM. I woke up and decided just to hit the trail. Hugh found a campsite 19 miles North from where he picked us up yesterday. We figured why not let him sleep in and hike south for one day.

So today from our campsite we are headed south! He will pick us up exactly where he picked us up yesterday. And tomorrow morning from the campsite will head north again.

The trail has been good today. Not a ton of ups and downs and the rocks are not bad. I did a side trail-blue blaze-that took me up and up and up. I was real tired when I reach the top. Then I put away my poles and bouldered for about a half a mile.

The picture doesn’t do it justice but it was a lovely view and a great place to have breakfast.

Sometimes the trail surprises me and takes you so close to private property where someone’s living – here’s an example of that.

There are two other things that are making this a spectacularly wonderful hiking day. One there’s a cool breeze almost all day long. What a difference from the last couple of days it makes it so much more enjoyable.

Second the trail is surrounded by mountain laurel that is in bloom. It is like walking through a florist shop.

This is the official halfway point of the Appalachian Trail. It’s not my halfway but it’s still a milestone.

Traveling south for this section has been kind of cool I have seen so many hikers that I’ve seen before! Of course I have to explain why I’m headed south but still a chance to catch up with them.

I want to give another shout out to the people that maintain this trail so many of them are volunteers. They make it easier for us to cross streams. But the Quarry Gap shelter is above and beyond anything I’ve seen on the trail. The innkeeper of this place does the most amazing job – it is spotless. And he put in a swing! What a guy.

We finished our 19 mile hike and Hugh was there waiting for us. We drove back and went to the Pine Grove Furnace General store. This is where the half-gallon challenge takes place.

The challenge is to eat a half-gallon of ice cream-because you’re halfway done with the hike. FYI I had a bowl. Of vanilla.

While at the General store I met my first through hikers going south this is Handy and Jesus.

It was a good day!

Day 39 – Back on the trail.

“Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.” -Marilyn Monroe

Miles high today 15.5.

Today we got a late start at 7:45 AM. We had to drive from Gettysburg and go back to where we left the trail. The weather has been tough. It is very humid and hot and today there was very little breeze. Regardless mother nature never fails to be beautiful and stunning.

On our zero day I went to buy new shoes. My other ones have done about 600 miles and they’re about done in. I bought boots because I have heard that the rocks in Pennsylvania are really bad. So for the first 4 miles I wore my new boots to break them in. I then switched back to my trail runners.

After another 4 miles I put the boots back on and it was an absolute no go! They hurt my feet. I stopped over and over trying to adjust them but nothing seem to be working. I finally switched back to my trail runners. I still need new shoes to get over rocks like these.

I was so focused on my feet that I went past the blue blaze of Chimney Rocks. I had gone 3/10 passed it before I realized it I turned around and went south on the trail to go back and see the view. I know many think it’s strange that I can’t pass it up, but I’ll never be here again, so to me it was worth the extra half a mile.

The view was spectacular and I met some more through hikers at Chimney Rocks. For the rest of the day I hiked with a hiker called Switchback. It was an interesting afternoon. Switchback is a lighting person for Broadway shows.

I told Switchback that a Popsicle was waiting for him at the RV when we got to the are stopping point. A thru hiker will do almost anything for a Popsicle!

Hugh picked us up at the park and drove us to our campsite. Another great day on the trail!

Day 38 – A Day of Rest!

“To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.” ~ Jane Austen

My apologies to Jane Austen but instead of sitting in the shade, I laid in the air conditioning. Had a near perfect zero day. Did laundry, went to the grocery store, bought new hiking boots and then took a nap.

Zero days are all about not walking!

It has been a wonderful day of rest and I’m ready for the trail tomorrow.

RockSylvania here I come!

Day 37 – Short Day!

“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. ” — Henry David Thoreau

Miles hiked today 12.8.

Started out this morning around 6:08 AM. The weather is in the 70s so it’s a little warm. Today is supposed to be another scorcher. It’s going to be a short day because this afternoon we’re off to see Gettysburg.

We had a couple of field crossing’s this morning. It’s really strange to walk out of the trees and cross a farmer’s field, but the Appalachian Trail goes where it goes.

Parts of the trail today were very overgrown which surprised me. With the tick population being incredibly high this year I would think that the AT clubs would put the trimming high on their list.

In case you have forgotten about the roots – they are always there!

As I was walking down the trail I saw this little fella. Stopped and chatted with him for a while – he did not have much to say, but was nice enough to let me take his picture. I have to tell you I felt an affinity for the little guy. He carries his home around on his back too!

At 9 AM I came to High Rock Ledges. This is the first time that we’ve seen graffiti on the Appalachian Trail and I have to tell you it made me sad.

Here is the view from High Rock Ledges.

But for every jerk out there there are dozens of nice people on the trail. Every now and then you come across trail magic when no one is there, but they just leave it for hikers. There are nice people everywhere!

Then we hit the Mason-Dixon line! Maryland is behind us and ahead of us is Pennsylvania aka Rocksylvania. Everyone has warned me about rocks in Pennsylvania I think it’s going to be hard.

Then I had about 4 miles left till we reached the RV for our short day. When I saw the RV I grabbed my phone to take a picture and this is what came out. The sun was bouncing off the RV making it glow. So perfect, because every time I reach the RV it’s like a little bit of heaven.

We are off to see Gettysburg!

Day 36 – Who knew!

“A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles” ~Tim Cathill

Miles high today 20.9.

Was on the trail today at 6 AM. I am trying to beat the heat! The morning walk was beautiful and cool enough that I could make some good time. For about 30 seconds I played with some deer. They would run and stop and then I would run and stop this went on for about 30 seconds. So fun – they are so tame they are used to people being around. The other thing I wanted to mention about wildlife are the birds here on the Appalachian Trail.

The AT is a birdwatchers paradise. The finches are so incredibly yellow they almost blind you. The hawks are always flying overhead and yesterday I saw a Scarlet Tanager. The woodpeckers in the still of the morning sound like jackhammers while the owls softly hoot.

I ate my breakfast at this over look. It’s simply never gets old.

Mid morning I came up on Washington Monument State Park. Who knew! This memorial was the first memorial built for George Washington. It predates the DC monument. It was super cool and you could walk up a stone spiral staircase to the top.

The view from the top was extraordinary!

After I left Washington Monument I met two ladies from the area that were out for some exercise. They were super nice and made the time fly by -I appreciated that they took time to take my photo as I crossed over I-70.

After I parted ways with the two ladies I met the Voorhees family. What a hoot they were! Owen and Jacob we’re super cool kids. The family was out for a hike. I showed the kids the picture of my cougar from Shenandoah National Park and they were duly impressed. This family made me smile and made the day seem brighter.

Then it was onto Annapolis Rocks. This was a big decision. Annapolis Rocks is a side trail – it’s a hot day – do I take it or not. Of course I take it, I can’t help myself, I love a good blue blaze. So down the side trail (blue blaze) I went and met a neat bunch of people from Philadelphia. They were kind enough to take a picture of me so I could put it up here for you all to see.

Here is the group from Philadelphia – what a great bunch.

The last 3 miles of the trail today was rocks. Rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks. Did I mention it was rocky?

I was never more happy to see Hugh and RV at the end of the day.

Until tomorrow.

Day 35 – Harpers Ferry!

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

Miles hike today 16.3.

When we started hiking this morning we only had 6 miles into Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Harpers Ferry is the headquarters of the ATC – Appalachian Trail Conservancy.  This place is a biggie for through hikers. They take your picture and you are put in a book to be recorded for all time.  And although it’s not the official halfway point to Maine it is known as the unofficial halfway point on the Appalachian Trail.

On our way to the ATC we had to crossover The Shenandoah River. Walking across a bridge is always cool. We arrived at the ATC headquarters and got the obligatory photos taken.

Then we followed the trail through Harpers Ferry’s old town district. We saw a beautiful old church that was not harmed during the Civil War.

We also walked past Jefferson Rock. Thomas Jefferson described the view of the confluence of the Potomac and the Shenandoah rivers from this rock which still bears his name.

We then passed John Brown’s fort. This is the place that John Brown was successfully captured, only to be held there under siege for two days until Robert E. Lee captured him. John Brown eventually was hanged for trying to get the slaves to rise up. We still sing the song John Brown’s body is a moldering in his grave.

Then it was finally time to cross the Potomac River and we were in the state of Maryland!

After crossing the Potomac River it was then a slog to reach Hugh and the RV. The weather turned hot and it drained all my willpower out of me. My gait slowed and my mood crashed. I found if I slow down I did not get overheated. So that’s what I did – instead of hiking I took a walk in the woods this afternoon.

It took longer but I made it!