If you all read our last post, we had happily crossed the Virginia border into West Virginia at Harper's Ferry after Giggles' turn at suffering through the Noro virus... just in time for her 21st birthday! Her mom, aka Mama Giggles (cuz, duh...) joined us for a week, keepin up with our mad miles, and even joining us on a marathon day.
We also gladly made it out of the South, crossing the Mason-Dixon Line after ordering celebratory chicken and bacon sandwiches at Penn-Mar County Park. Rumors about how rocky the Pennsylvania section of the AT abounded at this point, with our fellow thru-hikers freaking out about the terrifying geologic obstacles to come. We found, though, that southern PA was actually pretty easy-going, especially when exciting things happened--like crossing the 2014 official halfway point!!!!
Marked by this teeny sign (above), and this much larger, much less accurate, giant sign (below):
But then things got rough. Even with new shoes, the trail got so rocky and rough (rumors proved true) that our feet were torn up, our bodies were sore, and our spirits were dampened. The week of rain didn't help that much, either....
We enjoyed a nice 24-mile day into Hamburg, PA sloshing through this flooded trail.
Then, we enjoyed some rocks.
...and some more rocks.
The only redeeming qualities of PA were some pretty sweet shelters, like the 501 Shelter, where we ordered pizza and expanded our knowledge of backyard poultry.
We also got a pick-up for a night in Lancaster with the honorable William Michael Good, who treated us to a free place to stay, excellent company, beer, and homemade cinnamon rolls! But other than that, we were stoked to say "see ya never, bye forever" to Pennsylvania.
Despite our whining, there's always some beauty to be appreciated, and the trail (somewhat surprisingly) got extra lovely in New Jersey!
NJ started off on a good foot in Delaware Water Gap, which was technically the end of our PA stretch. We snagged some $2.49 hot-dog-and-a-slice-of-pie specials, and ended up staying two nights at a free church hiker hostel for a surprise zero to take care of a shoulder injury Chuckles sustained somehow. With some prescription drugs in pocket, we set off into our 8th state (!!!!!).
We were reminded of the Adirondacks when we hit Sunfish Pond in NJ, and it finally struck home that the northern terrain was here to stay--yay!
Jersey also boasted nice, pretty wetlands and boardwalks, well-blazed trails, ice cream pit-stops, and plenty of wildlife sightings, including three bears and a teeny tiny Eastern newt!
Unlike its predecessor, NY's trail has proved to be just as our guidebook's author AWOL promised: rocky, challenging, and full of abrupt ups and downs. Fortunately, the fates intervened in our usually difficult-to-nail-down trail schedule, and it turned out Chuckles dad and Bones' friend from Virginia would both be in New York City when we were passing by. So we spent a zero in the big city, enjoying some creature comforts and a definite change of pace.
We even got in some American history, and of course, enjoyed some excellent New York food and company. It's onward and upward to Katahdin for us--about 800 miles left! We can hardly believe it, but it feels great to be going strong.
Chuckles and Giggles