Posted by: athike2011 | May 27, 2011

5/23-5/27

5/23

Rocky Mountain Shelters

Well today started out way better, just as it was no longer yesterday. Only 19.8 miles today so I started out taking it easy. My legs and feet have been killing me lately so I took a number of breaks through the day. I stopped at Pen Mar County Park for a break and a water resupply. Not long after, I crossed the Mason-Dixon line into PA, and officially stepped into the north. That was about the end of the good day. The bugs, the humidity, the heat, all of which have been problems on their own days, converged into a melting pot of joy.

Lunch was going to be a stop at Deer Lick Shelters, however, within 15 seconds of being there I had become lunch for at least a dozen mosquitoes. My pack didn’t even make it halfway off before I was headed full speed out of there. I ended up stopping at a random clearing to avoid the swarms and get some much needed food in me. The heat out of the shade was almost unbearable and the mosquitoes honestly weren’t that much better. I covered myself head to toe in 95% deet, which seemed to only bother 1/4 of the mosquitoes, the rest kept at their all you can eat buffet. Towards the end of my short break I did a bug big, sore spot, wound check and found two of the smallest, dirt like deer ticks I have ever seen, fully embedded in my hip, so now I get to keep an eye out for bulls eye rashes and flu like symptoms.

For the rest of the day I was dripping in sweat and covered in bug spray, walking at a good pace and somehow still getting devoured by not just mosquitoes, but black flies and nats. There was one last good push for the day up a pretty steep 1,000 foot climb, and a nice long rocky ridge walk before getting to the shelter. I knew ahead of time that the last 5 miles to the shelter, and at the shelter, there was no water to be had. I didn’t notice until the next morning that there was also no water for the next 3 miles or so beyond that. At 2.204lbs per liter, I had an additional 8lbs of water on my back for this climb as well, and from what I have heard and read, this is how PA will be the rest of the way. The shelter was .3 miles down a very steep hill, and once I made it down, I found the shelter to be completely full and there was no flat area at all to tent. I started to hike back up and stopped a Lego and Redwood, who had been hiking just slightly behind me, and shared the unfortunate news. We found a tent spot that Lego had noticed a little south and set up for the night.

5/24

Exhausted, eaten alive, sore, and ready for a break, a 13.1 mile day was planed for today. Despite it being a very short and not extraordinarily overexerting day, it still dragged on like nothing else. Lego’s brother was planning on meeting us at this shelter this evening and bringing everyone some goodies, which is always a bit of a morale booster, but it didn’t seem to make the day go by any easier. I sat and ate lunch at a 5 way dirt road intersection, which was surprisingly quite busy. In the 25 minutes I was there, I managed to see a ranger patrolling in his SUV, two guys biking, and a guy running with his dog.

Got to the shelter around 2pm and set up to take a nap. Slept till about 5 or so and made some dinner. Lego’s brother didn’t end up showing up till around 9, but brought a few beers and a mini cheesecake for us.

5/25

Pine Grove Furnace State Park

This morning Lego’s brother made us a breakfast, and I set out to do the 9 miles to Pine Grove Furnace State Park for the 1/2 gallon challenge. The 1/2 gallon challenge is an AT tradition in which thru hikers attempt to eat a half gallon of ice cream just after the half way point. At the beginning of the day I was quite happy to have a fellow hiker in front of me, as Sierra is usually running around up there. He randomly threw up his hands and I took my headphones off. He told me to grab Sierra, which I did, and then pointed out the large Timber Rattlesnake in the middle of the trail. 6.7 miles into the day I hit the halfway point, it was great to do, but the spot was really wet and SWARMING with bugs. A quick photo op and I headed out. Got the the half gallon challenge to find that until after memorial day the general store is only open on weekends, so we were all SOL.

Lego and Redwood were heading back to Ithaca, NY for a few days for Redwoods sister’s graduation. Lego’s brother was giving them a ride to Harrisburg, PA to meet his sister and get the rest of the way north. I personally have been struggling with my desire to continue walking as of right now. Between the knee pain, foot problems/pain, the heat and humidity, the bugs, and the pure exhaustion, I have been feeling the need for a break badly. As I have passed the halfway point, I felt like this was a great time to take a few days to think everything over and let my body recover.

I made the decision to take a week off to re-evaluate my walk. I have greatly enjoyed the experience thus far, but it has taken one hell of a toll on my body. I also got slapped in the face with the reality of the risk I am putting on my dog by having her along with me, though I’m not sure I would want to do the walk without her. None the less, all this has left me with a need to think things through. I also need to put a great deal of looking into my financial situation, so if I decide continuing is what I want to do, I need to be sure that I can make it financially possible.

I took a ride to Harrisburg and rented a car to drive up to my buddy Eli’s place in Framingham, MA, where I am going to spend a bit of time relaxing/recovering, and figuring out what exactly I want to do. I will keep posting on the blog and keep everyone up to date on what’s going on. If I should decide not to continue, I will likely proceed with my previously posted idea for after the hike of getting a truck and further exploring the south and visiting family I haven’t seen in ages.

In the mean time, I am going to work to get all the pictures I have taken to this point, uploaded, organized, and online for everyone to enjoy.

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Responses

  1. Chris,
    Thanks for sharing with us the photos of your AT hike to this point. What amazing scenery! I’ve always wanted to see the Smokies up close and now I feel as if I’ve had the next best thing–seeing them through the lens of your camera. I can appreciate the discipline required to keep a daily log of your experience and I like how you’ve been including a shot of yourself for each day of the journey.

    Sounds like a very smart decision to take a break from the trail and give your body some down time to recover while you figure out your next move. The mosquitoes and gnats alone would make me crazy, never mind the heat, humidity, and the snakes! Enjoy your visit with Eli. You are an awesome young man ; ) My hat is off to you.
    xo Alice

  2. Which shelter were you at on May 24?


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