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.