I made it to Massachusetts a few days ago. The top left photo is me on Bear Mountain in Connecticut shortly before getting to the border and shortly after hitting 1500 miles of hiking on the AT.
I am finding both the scenery and the hiking more pleasing as I inch further north. Sages Ravine, pictured above, provided an intensely beautiful welcome as I hiked into Massachusetts accompanied by a friend from the Wilderness First Responder Course I took in March. Thank you Tricia for the delightful company, the gluten free goodies, and for saving my trekking pole from the wrath of the raging Brassie Brook! The water levels were very high from a few wet days, making for some fun stream crossings. I am finally all dried out now, and my new challenge is managing the mosquitoes. I ran a few miles of trail two days ago because the swarms were so thick in the lowland stretch.
More pictures coming soon!
While hiking today, I was thinking about some things which I have decided I must share with you. I have shared many of the exciting milestones regarding this wonderful journey, but I have not talked much about the darker side of things. Like how difficult it is to find a bowl of guacamole in the forests of Appalachia. I crave guacamole so much that I will often see guacamole mirages off in the distance. However, upon my arrival to that distant location I find only a tuft of green flora with a side of disappointment to dip into it with. Speaking of disappointment, hands down the greatest disappointment of this whole trip is not having a Sufjan Stevens album based on each state I hike through to listen to as I hike through them. Son of a Sufjan! The last thing that gets me real bothered while hiking: gnats, which I have started referring to as “gnazis” due to the relentless buzzkrieg which they unleash upon my ears and face on a daily basis.
There you go. The three worst things for me about thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Photos from hiking north out of Lehigh Gap on the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. This was one of my favorite climbs so far on the AT.
I passed an important point in my journey today. I walked past my last familiar sight on the Appalachian Trail, the view of Yards Creek Scout Reservation in New Jersey. The first 700 miles of my journey was unexplored territory for me, but from the Blue Ridge Parkway up through the first part of New Jersey I have been in the presence of many familiar sights and persons. Seeing places I had been to and getting trail visits from so much of family and friends put me at ease in that I felt close to home for a long stretch of my hike. Now with each step I am walking back into the unexplored and unfamiliar, and I am walking away from home. I am excited for the final leg of my journey. I have more than 800 miles to go until I reach Mt. Katahdin, and I hope they don’t go by quickly. There is a lot of beauty ahead to soak in.
I am over halfway done my journey, and I am enjoying this trip way more than I ever imagined. The woods feel like home to me. They always have, and I suspect they always will. My legs have never been this strong in my life, and it feels wonderful to soar over all these mountain tops. I was only able to hike about 10 to 15 miles per day in the beginning of my thru-hike. Now I can hike 20 to 25 miles per day no problem. I am excited to continue building on my strength in preparation for the mighty mountains of New England. Earlier today at the Boiling Springs ATC office, I was looking at elevation profiles for the last couple hundred miles of the trail. It looks intense to say the least, and I could not be more excited for the upcoming challenge. Until then, I will enjoy seeing friends and family along the way in Pennsylvania. My parents and niece visited me today. We enjoyed a fine lunch at the Boiling Springs Tavern after my parents left a pile of snacks and beverages at the ATC building for hikers. Then we visited the boiling spring and all the ducks on the lake which my niece enjoyed thoroughly. This has been one of my favorite town stops so far.
I have a sense that the next half of this trail will fly by quickly, so I will make sure to savor every moment because #YOHO.