Sunday, July 6, 2014

Day 91-My Last Day As An Assisted Slack Packer, Sad Times

Yesterday morning the sun rising across from my bed woke me up earlier than needed; reminded me of when I stayed in the shared room that first night, but I zeroed that day. Today I opened my eyes to a beautiful sunrise. I am out of scrambled eggs, bananas, and English muffins so I had the last two pieces of homemade peach bread and peach jam. Nana took out everything the night before so it would all be ready for me in the morning. I guess the ATC Mid-Atlantic doesn't open at the crack of dawn...oh well. I knew today was going to have a lot of great terrain and I was excited to enjoy that while Nana and Papa moved to the new campground. The beginning was a little in the woods near the road with a little bit of rocks and roots but nothing to complain about. Then I moved onto cornfields which were a great change of scenery! I photographed the cornstalks, the sun, the mulberry trees, another red berry that was all over the place making me think it is poisonous. I was loving this morning stroll. The farmland was gorgeous, the weather was great, and I was enjoying myself. And then I realized I forgot my sandwich for lunch. On the last day too! I had some snacks with me, but knew it wouldn't fill me as much as my massive sandwich does. I wondered if there would be a general store around that I could pop into for lunch, the trail crossed the road so often that it could be possible; but then again I was out in the sticks. I squatted on the side of the trail and saw someone coming up on me-damn weekends always bringing day hikers! I pulled up my shorts casually and heard him say sorry. I replied with no worries, seems like Northbof the Mason-Dixon Line there is civilization everywhere! We talked for a minute and walked together. He is local and is just out for the day, but is looking to thruhike next year. We crossed over the highway and slowly he faded out of sight from me enjoying the walk and not the hustle. I arrived at a railroad crossing and decided to sit beside the tracks on a rail and look at my map. I was making great time with the flat terrain, and needed to make sure I didn't race the clock today since they were moving. I sat and enjoyed the day and planned my next week, alone, un-assisted, back with the Blue Bitch (big pack for anyone who hasn't followed older posts.) I crossed another freeway and met Dos Equis, I had just heard his name from Spike and here he was. We chatted briefly and I carried on. It was so cool walking through civilization instead of the same old woods mile after mile. I am thankful I didn't have my pack, and that it wasn't 90 degrees, or I would have felt differently. I crossed back into the woods through a bunch of walkway bridges and the hike was leisurely next to the river, at this time I was getting closer and closer (obviously) to the destination but hadn't heard back with an estimated arrival time. I knew that after the tunnel the terrain was no longer going to be this amazing stroll in the park I've had; Pennsylvania could have fooled me up until then with its rock scare. Sure, there were patches and such, but overall it's been quite nice. That was about to slowly change. After the tunnel I sat and ate some Cool Ranch Doritos that I did pack, drank some Gatorade, and headed up the mountain. About midway up, I saw an old rusted frame to a vehicle which was something I had not seen on the trail thus far; airplane remains yes, car no. Had this climb been at the start of my day it wouldn't have been so bad, but after walking-yes walking and now I was huffing up a hill after no lunch I was getting irritable. I got about midway to a view, said hello to an older couple sitting, and headed up the rest of the way. I was having a tough time coming down the mountain knowing that it should only be about 2 miles but it was downhill and rocky! Made it seem like 5 miles. I was getting on my own nerves, where was this gravel road, which lead to a paved road, which lead to a main road?! I texted with Scout a bit to see where she was and seems she is about 100 miles behind me now! She went to DC for awhile (seems that is a trend) but I have no fear she will catch up and pass soon. After the woods, and back into the fields were getting hot and I have a small pack; the heat really worries me and thinking of having my big pack back makes it worse. Duncannon was full of hikers but was kind of rundown for what it was, the Doyle is famous there; but I don't think I could ever stay there. From what I've heard, it's rather scary, and I thought the Grand Prix was bad. Papa saved the day by bringing me my sandwich, chips, and a Gatorade; but I later learned that he was headed out the door when Nana handed it to him, makes sense. Either way I was grateful, and devoured it. We stopped at the Blue Mountain outfitter but it was just water sports, Papa did get a Pennsylvania road map there though. We had about an hour ride home and when the traffic hit, I fell asleep for the remainder of the ride. I opened my eyes as we pulled into the gas station and across the way I saw the KOA sign, not bad. Driving into the campground I saw a sign, "Appalachian Trail 2 miles" too bad they weren't staying I could walk right home to them! Oh well, I am so thankful for the 3 weeks the assisted me more than anyone will ever know. I took a shower almost as long as when I do after 6 days. I shaved and enjoyed the luxury that I wouldn't be having daily from now on. After my shower I relaxed for a bit, ate some Churches Chicken (no purple pepper sauce ugh!) And then started what I was dreading, putting the Blue Bitch back together. I am very short tempered because I am stressing about going back to the heavy pack after loving the little one. I spread everything from the little one on the couch to see what needed to go where. Nana did my laundry and I weeded through everything seeing what I could eliminate to save weight. The real game changer will be when I stop carrying 6-7 days worth of food and carry 3-4. But that won't be this week. I seriously have to look at my map and see if I can plan every 3-4 days to stop somewhere in town where my mom can send me what I need, or get a short term re supply from the store. It has been experience changing carrying less weight and doing more miles I feel so much better about myself, and now I will be back to turtle speed. Kind of depressing. If I can lighten up my load, I can get a lighter pack such as the ULA and then overall I will be happier, we will see! I tried her on for size and it all felt way too familiar...and bulky...and heavy. Tomorrow will be the 7th and it's crazy to think April 7th I started this journey in the pouring rain at Springer Mountain, Georgia. I have 14.5 miles scheduled for tomorrow but the rocks have picked up and are only getting worse, and same with the heat and thunderstorms. Luckily, I have been getting up early which gives me more time to spend. I can only ask that my day be good, the weather stay tolerable, my mind stay strong, my body stay strong, that I am healthy, and happy, and overall have a good day; at least that is what I ask for every morning. My tentative schedule for this coming week puts me at the PA/NJ line on the following Monday which isn't bad at all, hopefully I can pull it off! Talk to you all in 6 days or so; my readers too, were spoiled with blog posts daily! This queen sized, blowup pullout couch is calling my name one last time; tomorrow, zlite sleeping pad aka the ground.

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