First, a sincere apology to all of the readers out there. Our blog has been very dry the past few weeks due to unexpected events - namely, a lack of internet usage in towns! It is as if every time we entered a town, the library was closing earlier than expected or there was no library at all! There was one or two hotels in the past chunk of time, but there was no computer for hikers. Our poor lives!
Emily and Kate's entries seem to be a bit serious this round, so I'll write about some fun things we've been doing! In no particular order:
The Movie Theater. We were in the Delaware Water Gap and were feet from crossing out of PA into NJ. PA is tough on the feet (see: rocks) and Ringleader was tending to a pulled leg muscle, so we decided to take a zero day (see: hike zero miles). So, we went to the MALL! Kate went straight for an Auntie Anne pretzel and I went to the food court. My goodness! I forgot how expensive the real world is. $3 for a slice of pizza? That's how much I spend on trail food for one day. It was a zero day, however, so I bought that pizza and loved it. We went to the movie theater hoping for a double feature. I bought the large popcorn that gives free refills and got a cup of water. Movie 1: Killers with Kutcher and Heigl. WORST MOVIE EVER. It was so painful that we left 40 minutes into the film (Katherine O'Hara's performance was hilarious though - bravo). We switched over to The Karate Kid. Good choice! It was relaxing, entertaining, and satisfying.
Slack Pack. We ran through the state of PA! Slack packing is when you carry only what you need for the day: food, water, rain gear, and camera/equipment. Instead of 30+ pounds on our back, we carried 5-10 pounds. So, instead of 20 mile days, we hiked 30 miles in a day and lived to tell the tale...5 days in a row. We flew through the state of PA in 10 whereas a normal thru-hiker takes 2-3 weeks. Go team!
Carla. Remember that entry I wrote about the flood gates opening? It was due to my friend Carla. She was the key to my emotional wreckage. Thankfully, Carla lives 45 minutes from Port Clinton in PA, so she drove out to meet us with her mom! We woke up at 7 am to Carla arriving with baskets of food. Primarily, bacon. Bacon is a priority in my diet, and Carla knew this from living with me at Cornell. So, thank you Carla, for bringing bacon and other goodies, and enough to share with other hikers! Since seeing you, my emotions have been in check. It's as if you locked it all up again and allowed me to focus on hiking.
The Munds. The Munds are part of our extended family. They live in northern NJ and have been following our progress along the trail. Hearing we were 1.5 hours away from where they lived, our cousin Eric with kids Nyna and Sage and our cousin Chuck came out to visit. They picked up five hikers (Traveling Circus, Prophet, and Snickers), fed us, entertained us, resupplied us, and showered us with candy and snacks. It was GREAT to see more familiar faces and hear about the adventures the family has been having!
Harpers Ferry. This WV town is the time-wise half-way point of the Appalachian Trail. It also houses the headquarters of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. When a thru-hiker arrives to town, they get a picture taken and are given a thru-hiker count number. We spent almost two days in town, so we went shopping to dress up for the picture. Ringleader wore a hideous orange bust, Lightning wore hippie clothes, and I wore a frilly green shirt, all purchased from Goodwill. The photo shoot went perfectly! We were numbers 189, 190, and 191 for the year. WHO ARE ALL OF THESE PEOPLE AHEAD OF US??!?!
Half-Gallon Challenge. The actual half-way point of the AT is near Pine Grove Furnace in PA. Since we are half-way, it is tradition to eat half a gallon of ice cream. Lightning did not attempt. Ringleader finished the challenge with Mint Chocolate Chip. I finished the challenge with Cookies'N'Cream. Mmmmm! I got freezer burn on the roof of my mouth.
Bears. WHERE ARE THEY?!? I saw 3 within a 10 minute period while hiking in NJ. I got a few pictures, but none that great. Some hikers see 6 within a day. Ringleader and Lightning have not seen any. WHERE ARE THEY?!? I'd rather see a bear than all of these snakes!!!
Palmerton. Palmerton, PA was one of our favorite trail towns thus far. We slept in an old jailhouse - firing range included! We also spent many many hours at the local bar Susie's - made great friends with the local crowd, played some pool, and loved life!
Lehigh Gap. We crawled up the side of the mountain. Over boulders. In the sweltering heat. It took an hour to go one mile. NEVER climb out of this gap. Just don't do it.
AT Museum and Baltimore Jack. The Appalachian Trail Museum just opened in Pine Grove Furnace, PA. We visited the second day it was opened and were very surprised! The museum was thorough and great. ALSO there were four wood busts of trail legends: the first to thru-hike, the one who thought of the trail, the grandma celebrity, and Baltimore Jack. Baltimore Jack thru-hiked 8 years in a row and has been section hiking every year since. He lives and breathes the Appalachian Trail. He is also a huge supporter of the Traveling Circus. Thank you for believing in us, and looking forward to seeing you again up the trail!