Monday, July 11, 2016

It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint!

A lot has happened since my last post a week ago, here's a brief update before digging into the full post: an old friend joined us on the trail, we lost a Shady Creeper, I went swimming, I crossed 600 miles, and I did my first 1% AND marathon day. Discuss.

Our stay in Harpers Ferry was absolutely lovely and relaxing. One of the coolest things was that the AirBNB we were in was directly across the street from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy's headquarters, where everyone stops for their "half way" photo and hiker number. This allowed us to see all of the hikers coming through during the weekend and reconnect with some people we hadn't seen in a while. Again, a huge thank you to Alice's mom, Kate, for the AirBNB - it was really such a treat. In sad news, Audrey has decided that her time on the trail has come to an end. While I am very sad for her to leave our family, I am excited to see what she gets into next. I know it'll be exciting! Maybe, if we're lucky, she'll join us later on for a few weeks.

Alice and I were joined in HF by our friend Jill, who I met on the Long Trail when she was hiking it with Alice and their other friend Meredith. Jill, who is so darn funny, provided us with many laughs and some new trail games to pass the time during her three days on the trail with us. It was really refreshing to have another face on the trail and to change the pace a bit. In other sad news, Alice's amazing and strong grandmother, Alice, passed away while we were on trail. Luckily, Alice was able to get off the trail with Jill, get to an airport, and make her way back home to Massachusetts to be with her family and celebrate her grandmother's very full life. That left me alone for a few days, and I missed my family terribly. I was able to hang out with some familiar, and some new, thru hikers for a few days. We all met at the Pine Grove Furnace State Park (just after the AT half way point) for the famous Half Gallom Challenge. Most hikers participate in this essentially useless challenge - eat a half gallon of ice cream in one sitting. The current record is 8 minutes, which I think is shocking. I ate my mint chocolate chip and raspberry ice cream in 50 minutes... And was still hungry after! I think I ate close to 4,000 calories in two hours. I also came up to anther state park which had a pool complete with a snack bar! I spent many hours there swimming, eating, and drying the clothes I washed in the bathroom sink on the chain link fence.

When I finally made it to the adorable town of Boiling Springs, Eric picked me up (in a truck full of our trail family members) and brought us to his parents' house for a party with family and friends. It was really special to meet Eric's family and friends who have been supporting him this entire time. Since his parents live in relatovely close proximity to the trail, we were able to slackpack for a few days, which is such a good change of pace. Today I was able to hike 26.8 miles... which makes it my first 1% day and also my first marathon day. 1% being 21.89 miles, or 1% of the total trail length. Tomorrow Eric and I will take a zero, and spend the day at the Hershey Amusement Park! I'm super excited. Alice arrives tomorrow night, and our day off should let Nichole catch up as she was behind us from a few days of rest in NJ to visit family. I think the fam, minus Caroline who is trying to make  miles to see family in CT, should all be together by the end of this week. A HUGE thank you to Eric and Karen Hutchison for hosting a bunch of smelly hikers all week, throwing a great party, feeding us from the garden, and shuttling us to and from the trail. True trail Angels!

All in all, things on the trail are going well. I've crossed off two more states - West Virginia and Maryland, and we're now into Pennsylvania. The terrain has leveled out a bit, and while
PA is known to be very rocky, the change is still nice. I've hiked through lots of farm lands and fields, and it's such a treat to hike through anything that isn't the "green tunnel."

Hope everyone is doing well and enjoying their summers. 

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