Saturday, June 16, 2012

Reunited and It Feels So...Bittersweet

So after too much time, I caught up to my friend Stefan. I haven't seen him since I dropped him off at Newfound Gap in the Smokies on April 1. I wish I caught up to him under better circumstances. He had to get off the trail because of an infection from getting dirt in a bug bite and also a case of tendinitis. We were hoping he would get back on the trail with me, but just walking without a backpack on made his leg swell. He has made arrangements to fly back home to Germany next week and hopefully will return in a few years to finish the trail. I can't imagine how tough it is to make it this far and have to call it quits, but as he said, at least it's his body telling him to quit and not his brain. Injury has forced way too many friends off the trail. Even I had a taste of it when I sprained my ankle.

On a happier note, I am now 3 months in on this incredible journey. I cannot believe I made it this far. I also cannot believe how close I am to raising enough money for a second well in Africa. Hundreds of people are going to be able to have a better quality of life simply because they will have drinkable water. The thought of this makes every step I take, even the ones on the sharp Pennsylvania rocks, easier to take. I desperately hope that my journey will inspire others to step out and make a difference, whether directly, indirectly, or insanely (like me). This journey is not just changing their world (Zambia), it's changing my world. I have a new confidence that I never had- not in my abilities, but God's. I genuinely believe that I have the ability to make an impact in the world. My story is full of blank pages ahead of me with endless possibilities ready to be written.

Here is what happened the last few days...

Day 92 (6/11) - Ironmasters Mansion Hostel to Boiling Springs, PA (19.6 mi)
Today I celebrate my 3 month trail anniversary. It started with some Eggo Waffles from the hostel and then some quick miles. I felt great and found my groove quickly. I have to admit I got a little emotional this morning as I reflected on the first 3 months and then thought about summiting Katahdin. That will get here soon enough. The terrain was pretty easy at the beginning and then it turned into a mini version of the Rollercoaster, complete with rock mazes. The rock mazes had arrows and blazes on the boulders to help you find your way through, over, or around. It was pretty fun, but I lost one of my crocs in it. Luckily, Crush came up behind me with it. The trail came out off the mountains and right into corn and wheat fields. I had to hike right in the middle of them. Right before getting into Boiling Springs, there is a campsite between the farms and railroad tracks. Just as I finished setting up camp, Nokey called me and told me a guy was offering to let us sleep in his garage. I tore everything back down and hiked into town where they were all waiting. The guy's name was Snow, and he thru hiked last year. He is a super cool guy and he gave us a ride to the grocery store and let us take showers and do laundry. Talk about great trail magic and a great way to celebrate my 3 month!

Day 93 (6/12) - Boiling Springs, PA to Cove Mountain Shelter (21.6 mi)
RAIN! All day it rained. The flattest, easiest 14 miles of trail was today, and what could have been quick miles took almost the regular amount of time because of all the drops of watery torture falling from the sky. About 10 miles in, I stopped for lunch and turned on my phone. I had a text from Nokey saying that they stopped in Carlisle at a diner for lunch. I was already 3 miles past them so I told them they could catch up when they were done. Then I get a call saying that they went on and got a hotel room because it was supposed to keep raining and possibly hail. I told them I was already wet so I was just going to keep hiking. I was definitely not going back 3 miles just to hike them again tomorrow. So I pressed on. The easy terrain eventually came to an end and there was some climbing and then eventually some rocks. In the back of my mind I was thinking if I could get some miles in a little quicker I could push 4 more miles in and make it to Duncannon tonight. But by the time I reached the shelter I was too wet, too tired, and a little to chafed to push on. Dos was at the shelter too and as we were cooking dinner, a cat came out of nowhere and wouldn't leave us alone. It finally went away, but then I had my first encounter with a new critter...a porcupine. It crawled up the steps and into the shelter. We quickly put our shoes up because they are attracted to salty things and have been known to steal shoes. Hopefully it will leave us alone so I can get some sleep.

Day 94 (6/13) - Cove Mountain Shelter to Peter's Mountain Shelter (15.3 mi)
After a terrible night of sleep due to a porcupine gnawing loudly at the edge of the shelter for 5 hours, I hit the trail anxious to get into Duncannon. I was treating myself to breakfast since I hiked all day in the rain and survived the great porcupine invasion of 2012. It was a quick 4 miles to get to town, where I stopped at a little diner and got one of the best ham and cheese omelets I have ever eaten. My next stop was the Doyle. The Doyle is a hiker hotel that everyone is supposed to stay at. I broke that tradition. I just needed to pick up a package. I went into the main entrance which is a bar and restaurant. The lady who runs it told me I could hang out and charge my phone and stuff, so I did. I sat there long enough I thought I might as well eat lunch there too. So with an extra full stomach I trekked my way through the town, which reminded me a lot of home. After crossing two huge rivers by bridge, the trail crossed some railroad tracks and then escape back in the woods straight up a mountain. Because of the time I spent in town, I wasn't going to make it as far as I wanted, but I could make it as far as Dirty Girl was going so I could hang out and catch up after a week and a half of not seeing him. It was an absolutely gorgeous day for hiking and somehow I had the magical soundtrack to accompany the hike, which included Tom Petty, Avett Brothers, Beck, The Ting Tings, Steve Perry, and The Monkees. Some stuff I hadn't listened to in a long time and it gave me a good rhythmic stride along the trail.

Day 95 (6/14) - Peter's Mountain Shelter to Pine Grove, PA (22.7 mi)
I got off to a late start this morning mostly because it was pretty cold out. I was warm for the most part in my sleeping bag, but only because I was fully zipped up in it. After hitting the snooze on my phone too many times, I got up and going. It didn't take long to warm up once I started hiking. It was another wonderful terrain day today. I was cranking out the miles. By lunch, I was only 8 miles in. I like to be at least half way done, but because of my late start that wasn't possible. I had 10 miles to go if I wanted to be safe, or 14.5 miles to go if I wanted to hit my goal. I was walking with Dirty Girl again, so we talked and caught up about our week and a half that we didn't hike together. Before we knew it, we were at the area he was calling it quits for the day. I decided to go on and cook my dinner so I could press on and do the other 4.5 miles, just get into camp, set up, and crash. Before I left, Dirt Girl wanted to take a few pictures with me because he is convinced he will not see me any more on the trail. He isn't doing the miles I am trying to do. I took off ready to knock out that last stretch quickly. When I was about half a mile from camp, it dawned on me that I was going to be at the mileage point my German friend Stefan got off the trail due to injury. I was supposed to call him so I did and told him I was at the road, and the family that has been keeping him said that they would pick me up and I could stay there. They were only 10 minutes away when I realized I was not at the right road. Crap! I had 3/4 of a mile to go. So I bolted. It is not easy running with a backpack on, but I did it and made it just in time. I stayed up way too late catching up and am going to take a zero to spend one more day with him since he will be returning to Germany earlier now.

Day 96 (6/15) - Zero Day
Today I feel like crap. I am another victim of food poisoning. I ran into Stingray yesterday and he only hiked 13 miles because he wasn't feeling good. When I asked him what he ate, he told me a BBQ sandwich from the Doyle in Duncannon. I ate the same thing. So this morning when I ate breakfast, it came right back out. With no energy, I still attempted to tour the Yuengling Brewery- the oldest brewery in America. I came back from there and took a 2 hour nap, hung out with Stefan some more, and went to bed. Very thankful for John and Kathy for taking me in.


Post a Comment