Hey guys!!! Okay so time for more updates! It’s been insanely hard to keep up with the daily entries, as is mentioned in earlier posts, so instead I’m gonna start giving general updates and get the dailies uploaded one I’m back home and able to edit and upload photos to go with them. So, here’s what’s been going on lately…..
I left harpers ferry after spending several amazing days with my family. They brought up several coolers full of trail magic and set up shop at a state park where my hiking friend Coma had gathered around thirty hikers. Many of them I’ve known for quite some time and some had been a part of the aqua blazing adventure so it was awesome that my family got to meet them and get stinky hiker hugs. So that was the short trip through West Virginia. I celebrated my 23nd birthday and the one year anniversary of Rebel passing away with the people closest to me and had some forth of July fun dressing up with other hikers.
After my short break from trail life, I crossed the bridge over the Potomac and the Shenandoah rivers, marking my entrance into Maryland. Heads up to those of you getting a pic at every state border, there’s no sign here.
Maryland was much better than is expected. If never really given Maryland much thought before, in my head it was like the red headed step child of the states. I am, in reality, pleasantly surprised by how beautiful and historical and FLAT it is. Maryland crosses several small fields, dozens of roads, and countless battlefields and historical landmarks. The dozens of roads translated into a soda almost every day. It’s funny how back home I never craved sugar drinks like soda but out on the trail I practically base my day around how I can score the syrupy carbonated goodness. Anyways, Maryland is definitely on the list of places to take my non hiking friends and family for short backpacking trips because of it’s small stay inclined and historical sightseeing spots.
Before I knew it, I was standing in Pennsylvania. This was the state that all hikers headed north bound are afraid of. By this point we’ve somehow conquered the Virginia blues but are faced with a new threat… The jagged peaks of rocksylvannia. Looking at the terrain profiles back in Virginia, so many of us hikers coined the term ‘trail porn’ referring to the flat elevation profiles of Pennsylvania as compared to Virginia’s steep accents and descents. Now that we reached PA however we were learning that our twenty five miles a day averages are a thing of the past. In a chance passing we met a man named Marcus who invited us to stay at his home that weekend. A few days later, comatose from completing the half gallon challenge where hikers eat a half gallon tub of ice cream marking the halfway point on the trail, we called Marcus back and five of us spent an amazing few days hiking and slack packing with him, his wife and their three children. We went to Hershey park, saw the Doyle hotel, went to a hero show and heard some bluegrass music. It was such a great time and saying goodbye to the the kids, now my evil minion army, wasnt easy but the mountains were calling one more.
Like i said before, the first half of pa is gorgeous. There are rocks but also many streams and fields. It’s the second half however that fit hits the shan. At several points you are literally bouldering straight up rock faces cursing the day Benton MacKaye was born (after the town Palmerton, there is a spray painted sign saying ‘turn back’. I’d advise you listen to it). Several hikers attempted the wall may challenge, where you purchase a bike and ride it to the next wall mart and return it. Haven’t seen them since but i heard the bikes didn’t get far. Eventually however you reach Delaware Water Gap and boom, just like that you are in the eighth state of new Jersey. Spoilers alert… This border crossing doesn’t have a cool sign either. Do be sure to hit up the rangers info station, they are super cool and in return for you signing their log book they award you a junior ranger badge!
New Jersey I should say was also a big surprise. Unlike Maryland where I didn’t know exactly why I expected to hate it, the oompa loompah stereotypes of reality TV made me think all of jersey would be one big frat-tastic urban sprawl of jocks and deuschbags. Jersey was far from that and was a nice split from PA, which had already gotten old. In jersey you hike on ridge lines and see nothing but mountains and small farms for as far as the eye can see (minus one nuclear power plant…). It was definitely not the gross overflow from big northern cities I’d expected it to be. Good for you Jersey.
From hiking through new Jersey, a fellow hikers family picked us up for some trail magic and we stayed at their house right across from New York City. The following day we meet even more hikers, including fellow Appalachian Trials blogger Amy Stardust, and explore as much as we could in a single day. We hit ground zero and the freedom tower, wall street, China Town, museums, times square, the statue of liberty, and more! It may have been a zero day for trail miles but we walked our butts off and ate so much dollar pizza. I always love getting to meet hikers families too, they’re always so awesome and supportive of their kid’s smelly hiking buddies. After taking a train back to the trail my first night back in the woods was serenaded by a pack of coyotes not to far off from the shelter. They started up all night yelping and singing to one another and it was so cool to listen to. And just like that, the great state of new York was over. I’m glad that I got to see both the big city and the farms and fields of the more rural new York. The city was a huge culture shock and I’m not sure that I’ll ever be back but it was an interesting experience to say the least.
It’s strange that only a short train ride separates the big city from the upstate country side. The contrast was so different, no more people! We were back in the land of cows and trucks! Yee haw! New York was a lot to take in, maybe that’s why I was so relived to hit the next state….. Connecticut!!!!!
Yes I think the rocks are here to stay. Ugh.
Well anyways, I’m halfway through this state, hoping to be in Massachusetts by the weekend where hopefully my former they hiking buddy Angry Bird and I will meet up and then it’s off up and away! I’ll save the details of Connecticut until the next update, so stay tuned and remember you can support or donate to backpacking for a cause by clicking the link up top!!! Happy trails y’all!!!