Monthly Archives: July 2013

Delaware Water Gap, PA to Vernon, NJ [1352 miles]

tovernon

 

EDELTOVERNON

I am racing the sun.

It’s the end of another 20 mile day in New Jersey. I hike the last mile to the shelter in the growing darkness. It’s been nearly 4 months and 1400 miles, but the darkness of the woods still makes me uneasy. I listen to a podcast to distract myself from the looming trees.

I spot the blue blazes to the shelter and sigh in relief. In 5 minutes, my tent is set and I’m ready for bed. I head to the bear box with my food bag, open the latch and discover… treasure??Someone has left soda, cookies and chips for thru-hikers.

Trail magic!!

Sounds of joy escape my lips.

It always comes when you least expect it.

Trail magic isn’t about the food. It’s the thought that someone carried this out here. It’s that someone is thinking about me. It’s knowing that we aren’t forgotten and someone cares.

Trail magic makes everything better.

New Jersey has been beautiful, flat, and chilly. However, New Jersey has also been hard in ways I wasn’t expecting. In this section, the trail passes so close to civilization. Yesterday, I ate breakfast in Unionville, NY and dinner in Vernon, NJ. The trail passes near a lakeside beach at a state park. It’s Friday and families are enjoying a picnic and couples are cuddling on towels.

To me, that’s harder than anything else.

The terrain is easy, but it’s hard to catch these fleeting glimpses of civilization.

I try to push thoughts out of my brain. Yes, I’ll cuddle on a towel on the beach again. Yes, I’ll have a picnic in the sun again. Yes, I’ll play catch with a dog again.

That day is not today. Or tomorrow. Or anytime soon.

To tell you the truth, I can’t wait until Vermont.

I can’t wait until the wilderness again.

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Categories: New Jersey, Pennsylvania | 7 Comments

Duncannon, PA to Delaware Water Gap, PA [1289 miles]

todeleware

EDUNCTOWATER

Pennsylvania.

I was warned about this state on a cold night in Georgia. We were sitting around a cozy fire and a section hiker told me that Pennsylvania would eat me alive. I remember brushing off the warning. Sure, it’s hard, but won’t I be a hiking machine by then?

Nope.

Pennsylvania is rough. I have found it to be harder than any other state so far, even with its flat terrain. It’s hot, sunny, snake filled, rocky, and bug infested (they especially like to dive into my eyes).

I’m not really sure what keeps me going. Sometimes, it’s just little milestones. Pizza delivery at the 501 shelter, getting to sleep at the jailhouse hostel, and the constant yearning for the New Jersey border.

And there are some days, when even the milestones mean nothing.

On those days, I am only walking to be closer to Katahdin.

Every moment.
Every footprint.
Every bead of sweat.
Every ache.

Brings me closer to you.

In a few hours, I push into my 8th state: New Jersey. Maybe I’ll have new things to complain about.. like bears. (Really! NJ has a lot of bears!)

Goodbye, Pennsylvania.

You were a challenge. Thank you for making me stronger. You were an excellent training ground for the north and I’m proud to have hiked every mile.

A big thanks to all the trail angels in Pennsylvania! You helped me push through.

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Categories: Pennsylvania | 11 Comments

Harper’s Ferry, WV to Duncannon, PA [1142 miles]

todunc

EHFTODUNC

“Hey guys!”

I’ve come across 2 other hikers and their dog standing in a clearing on the side of the trail. They are getting ready to record a video and seem emotional and teary.

“Hey Acorn. Welcome to the halfway point!”

“What? Where??”

My eyes scan my surroundings for the flags and halfway sign. I see nothing, but a pile of rocks on the ground that says…

Oh god..

This is it.

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I sit down on a log and extract my guidebook from the dark depths of my pack. Of course, the rocks are right. This is the spot. I can finally start the countdown.

The other hikers film an emotional video and I’m soon alone with the rocks. I crawl into the circle and enjoy a quiet moment alone.

It’s funny when a pile of rocks on the woods means the world to you.

I don’t know how to feel. Yes, I am proud of my accomplishments to date. But a small part of me is sad. I am heartbroken that my adventure is half over already. I am currently hiking with someone who has already hiked this half of the trail. I understand why he came back this year.

The AT ruins you.

The sky rumbles and dark clouds threatens rain. Gotta stop being sad, and keep hiking.

I am so happy to be back on the AT after my trip to Chicago.

Pennsylvania is hard, hot, and rocky. But it’s worth it!

Sorry for the quick update. I’m sitting on the balcony of the Doyle right now and gotta hit the trail before I melt.

Lots of love!

Hope the pictures work, I have a bad 3G connection right now 😦

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Categories: Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia | 9 Comments

Home

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The train slows as it approaches the station in Harpers Ferry.

Finally.

I slide my arms through my pack’s straps and clip the belt around my hips.

Click.

Oh, how I missed her! It has been a long time since we have been together and I missed our abusive relationship.

I depart the train, and I’m pulled back to the white blazes like a magnet.

It’s been two weeks since I left the trail to organize my life.

It is done.

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The apartment in Chicago is empty. My cat, Doodle, is safe in my parents house in Kansas with the few possessions I wanted to keep. Luke is relaxing in Kansas City before flying to Africa for the year. My paperwork to renew my Medical Lab Scientist certification has been sent. I’ll probably need a job at some point? Right?

The strings are tied.

I’m back. I kiss the white blazes on the lamppost (my first ones!) and head north to finally cross the bridge into Maryland.

I am home.
I am walking to Maine.
I am so eager for the next 1000 miles.

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Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere; and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.

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Categories: Uncategorized | 7 Comments

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