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  • Archive for June, 2010

    Yesterday we finally made it to New England, but my southern mind already thought I was there the minute we crossed the Mason/Dixon line and into PA. Apparently no one else thinks that PA, NJ and NY are in New England…oh well. We are officially in Connecticut and in a few short days, Massachusetts. I am looking forward to blitzing through those states and getting to Vermont. It has been very warm and humid here and I didn’t realize that other parts of the country had heat induced afternoon thunderstorms like Florida.

    Yesterday we had done about 9.5 miles and Chris had jumped in 10 mile River for a swim. I was keeping an eye on some clouds coming over the mountain and we started hearing thunder. We got up the hill a bit and it got louder so Chris called his dad to see what the radar looked like. It was a strong line of t-storms so we decided to set the tent up and ride it out. Good thing we did because it poured the second we got in the tent with very strong lightning and wind, too. I think that will be our course of action for short t-storms from now on. See, it isn’t so bad being wet, but having wet shoes is the worst. They take at least two days to dry out and usually new blisters pop up when the shoes are wet. Our other course would be to sit it out and take off our shoes and throw our Keen’s on, but we’ll keep that mind.

    Since the last time I posted I said NJ was pretty nice, and it was until the last part of the state. It turned into a series of PUD’s and the NJ/NY line was completely awful. We did 24 miles that day, with two stops for ice cream. It was hot and we were on exposed rocks for a lot of the day. Ugh. Some of NY was nice, a section through Harriman State Park and the Lemon Squeezer was nice (which we did in the rain…and there is 6′ wall you have to climb up that doesn’t have any particular way to hold on to…try that!). We got into CT yesterday after staying at a plant nursery for the night. It’s on NY 22 and the owner lets you take a shower and camp out behind where his tree lot is. There is a deli 0.5 a mile down the road too…the only thing you have to put up with is the commuter train to NYC and some road noise.

    It is very nice to be counting down the miles now. Tomorrow we’ll be under 700 miles left…phew! It will go fast, I know, but I am ready to see friends and family and my cats. We talk about the cats all the time. Squirrels and chipmunks are Leo and rabbits and groundhogs are Samson.

    Well, the library has a time limit so I think we are going to grab lunch and come back in the afternoon and try to upload some photos. We got a super cute video of a chipmunk! So, hopefully more blogging later.

    Also, we’re starting to update our resumes and try to look for jobs, so if you know of any biology/science/environmental jobs in Texas that have start dates for September, pass them on!

    🙂

    Well, we’re on the NJ/NY border eating at a deli and it has internet! WOOHOO! So, as my brother posted, we made it through Pennsylvania…aka: Rocksylvania or what others called Rocksylsnakethornia. We know two people who gave the finger to PA on the downhill into Delaware Water Gap…that’s how much PA is hated by the AT crowd. The first 1/3 to 1/2 isn’t bad, up to Duncannon. It just gets suckier with each miles after that. Not only that, we got on one ridge that had zero water for 17 miles. Ugh. Up until then water has been pretty frequent and plentiful.

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    I guess our most interesting day was the day we stayed under a bridge from 1pm until the next morning. We got up and it kind spitted off an on for the morning until we ran into our friends Cubbie and Dilly-Dally who were getting water and then it just proceeded to rain a steady, cold rain the entire day. We got to a cooler about .1 of a mile south of this bridge and it wasn’t even exciting because the day was sucking so bad. We still had 8 miles to a shelter and it was lunch time and we came upon this bridge and decided to sit it out for awhile. Well, the awhile turned out to be overnight because it rained the entire day. It was miserable. Everyone we talked to that day had a crummy day.

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    And here is the hellhole called PA. Rocks, rocks, rocks. Big, small, flat, sharp, pinching, you name it, they’ve got ’em. We stopped at this place called the Pinacle just outside of Port Clinton (which by the way, at the hotel there, do not order the large fry unless you have 8 people to eat it with you) and there is a huge pile of rocks there. We decided that that was the pile that all of the trail maintainers go to to get more rocks to fill the trails. We pulled a 22 miler after Port Clinton, not really a bad day on a normal day, but after that we decided to scale it down a few miles until we were out of PA because it was so rough.

    Our other interesting day was leaving Lehigh Gap and the city of Palmerton. Google Palmerton Superfund Site and you’ll see what I’m talking about, but years ago there was a zinc processing plant that ended up blowing all sorts of nasty stuff into the nearby hills and pretty much killed everything in existence. When you come down into Palmerton and see what you have to go up you will think that you are in Colorado. It’s pretty insane! We met Chris’ friend Rich there for lunch (thanks for the Mickey D’s and ice cream Rich!) and that day happened to be full of thunderstorms. The ATC book says that climb out of Palmerton is one of the most technical south of the White Mountains in NH, but it really wasn’t that bad except it was freaking humid (yes, Christine, it really does get almost as bad as FL!) and then we got poured on at the top. We ended up walking a few miles on top of the superfund site and pitching a tent. The only bummer was there were tons of ripe blueberries because they were in full sun and we couldn’t eat them….or at least I wasn’t about to eat off of a superfund site! hah!

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    We also ran into a couple walking their ‘pet’ wolf. They take it around to powows and talk to people about not raising wolves and how they do not make good pets. Supposedly it is the only licensed and approved wolf in PA. We gave it a dog treat…the owner was very cautious with it when we came up to them.

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    This picture is just for Eliana and Marc….we wanted you to know Valentina had friends. 😉

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    Outside of Duncannon we ran into Cyron and Moe…this guy is really hiking with an iguana. You may have heard about the guy who carried a cat on his pack the entire way…guess Moe is the first iguana. He’s headed south.

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    My mom wanted to see the inside of a hostel…this is kinda typical. This is the lounge area of the Church on the Mountain in DWG. We stayed there and it was very nice. Got to talk to Pastor Karen and found out she’d been pastor for 23 years and the hostel is the oldest on the trail, since the early 70’s! The only problem is there is no laundry in DWG so we rinsed everything in the sink (ewwww…it was nasty water!)

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    We made it to Sunfish Pond on Wednesday morning, the only place Chris had ever been on the AT. He went last November ( you can search my archives for that post) to take photos after work on day…or he went on a weekend when they weren’t working. Something. Anyway…it was nice to see someplace he’d talked about.

    We saw our 17th bear yesterday. A very tame bear that we could have walked right past if we hadn’t been paying attention. We heard the bushes move, looked up and saw 50 feet away was the bear and it just kinda ambled off like it didn’t care we were there. NJ has a lot of bear boxes instead of hanging bags.

    Oh and New Bearsy is New Jersey, and I’m naming New York New Deli because we cross a lot of roads with access to foods. We’ve heard that Massachusetts has a ton of bugs so I’m thinking once we get there and see how that really is I’m going to name it Massamosquitoes. People call Vermont Vermud and I think I’ll call Maine The Promised Land. Everyone is getting excited knowing we are counting down now. We’re getting near 800 miles left! Most people are going to be stoked to just set foot into Maine, not thinking there are over 200 miles of the trail in Maine!

    I’m hoping for good weather…no more nasty entire rainy days. I can wish, right? Thunderstorms at night for replenishing the springs and streams while I’m cozy in my tent and nice days the rest of the time.

    Well, until I can get back on again, that’s all. I don’t have anything else scheduled since we didn’t upload many photos this time around.
    I have to thank my brother for being so nice and reposting all of my scheduled blogs for me because WordPress sucks with scheduling right now. You rock, bro!

    I’ll be on again when I can! 🙂 Hope everyone is well!

    Misti called me this evening.
    They are spending the night in a hostel on the Pennsylvania/New Jersey border at Delaware Water Gap. They spent their wedding anniversary on the trail yesterday. Today they were able to celebrate it with a short 13 mile day and a steak dinner. They’ll be resupplying soon in Unionville.

    Misti’s brother here. I talked to Misti and Chris over the weekend. They had just finished lunch and were continuing on for a few more miles. I think they are about tired of walking in PA. Tired of climbing over rocks.
    That’s all I got for now. They should hit a town soon.

    Chicken of the Woods Fungi

    Toad

    Eastern Box Turlte

    Indian Pipes along AT

    Unknown Insect

    As an aside, I’ve barely taken any photos on this trip…the majority of the credit can go to Chris.

    AT Shelter
    The shelter that Pie & Cake came out to. Full house that night.

    AT Museum Grand  Opening

    Original Washington Monument
    Tucked away in Maryland is the original Washington Monument. Bet you didn’t know there was one older than the one in DC!

    Timber Rattlesnake - Black Phase
    One other thing PA is known for are the copperheads and timber rattlers that hang out in the rocks. We were at a shelter just inside the PA border one morning when Chris had just gotten out of the shelter and onto the wood platform below. I’d just let the air out of my mattress when I thought I heard someone else letting theirs out too. Chris looked at his electronics bag thinking it was making the noise, when we looked at each other and I said that I thought it was a snake. Sure enough, right behind my boots was a timber rattler, pissed off that we’d woken up. Hah!

    Timber Rattlesnake - Yellow Phase
    Later that afternoon we were at another shelter when this one came out of the woods. Chris got a really cool video of it but we are having a hard time uploading it to YouTube.

    Unknown snake - anyone know the ID?
    Then we saw this eastern garter snake, which I don’t mind seeing. I’m not looking forward to jumping rocks and watching for snakes. Ick.

    We officially passed halfway on Saturday morning. It was exciting to see the sign and we let out some whoops and yells. Pretty much everyone you talk to feels like we’ve already done way more, but of course you look at the map and there is a long way still to go. But, we’re doing pretty darn well.

    The shelter registers are starting to show fewer and fewer familiar names. Many names that I recognize are ones that I’ve never met but they are a week to two weeks ahead. We know a few people, maybe three, that are ahead about a week that we’ve hiked with, but other than that we are what we are calling ‘ the back of the front’ of the group. When we did the big miles (not that we haven’t stopped) we got ahead of a lot of people, some of the names we knew. But, it has been nice to meet up with new people and get new friends. The trail is weird in that aspect. You hike with a small group for a week and everyone kinda goes their own way and then out of the blue you see someone in town!

    Today we walked into Duncannon, PA and that is when I really realized we were in the North. We crossed the Mason Dixon line at the PA/MD border and it didn’t seem “north” yet, but today…very much North. The people are a bit different, the buildings are different….it’s a completely different feel. Not bad…just different.

    In Harpers Ferry we had the opportunity to meet the trail famous Baltimore Jack. Chris said he was at Neel’s Gap when we were there, but we didn’t know who he was. We talked to him for about an hour before we left Harpers Ferry and we were finding out about the AT Museum that was opening on the 5th at Pine Grove Furnace State Park. We figured we could easily make it there by the opening and sure enough we only did 10 miles that morning and strolled in at 10:30 in time to watch another thru-hiker Cornpatch do his half gallon challenge (eat a half gallon of ice cream…no set time).

    The AT Museum was smaller than I expected and paid tribute to the usual suspects: Earl Shaffer, Gene Espy, Grandma Gatewood, and Ed Garvey. (though I am just learning who Ed Garvey is…bad AT thru-hiker I am). They also had a display on the only cat who has thru-hiked the AT…somehow I don’t think Leo or Samson would enjoy it as much!

    The one thing I was disappointed was that they really did too good of a job patting themselves on the back—too much political crap. And there were at least 10 current thru-hikers there and there was no mention of us nor any mention of recognizing any past hikers. Other than that, it was a nice lazy day and we did another 7 to the next shelter where Pie and Cake, ’06 thru-hiking couple we met at the opening came up to the shelter and brought us beer. I don’t normally drink beer but it was nice to drink something cold and fizzy.

    Yesterday we had our most unusual hike and our longest hike, 26.3 miles. Normally we are in the mountains and on ridges and in an occassional field, but we had to walk across about 15 or so miles of the Cumberland Valley. This conssits mostly of farm fields and in some more urban areas, and across several interstates and major roadways. It was mostly flat, too, so that was a bonus. Today we hit the rocky part of the state, or just the start of it really. So far I’ve enjoyed PA, beautiful sections and really good pathways, but wow, the rocks are giong to sucks. Each state has something it is known for. Most people think of VA as being ‘flat’, but PA is known for the rocks. They are big rocks, small rocks, really dumb sections that I don’t get why the trail maintainers really put us through some of these things. Ugh……and it slows you down.

    So far we think we can wind this hike down sometime in mid-August. We want to do big miles until we reach Vermont and then kinda try to enjoy the last three states since they will start getting more difficult again and also because they are three beautiful states. I can’t imagine dragging it out longer. There are lots of people who are slowing down but probably just as many who aren’t. I’m having fun, but there are so many things I am looking forward to.

    HALF WAY!

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