Day 85: Welcome to Rocksylvania

Day

Raven Rock Shelter to Chimney Rocks

Miles Hiked: 14.4

AT Milage: 1075.9

This morning I slept in until 7am because I got such good sleep last night. I was slow to get ready. There was no rush since Flamingo and I planned out an easy 13-14 mile day today. We are meeting his mom in three days to do the half gallon challenge at Pine Grove Furnace state park so we don’t have to hike big miles to get there in time. The half gallon challenge is a thru hiking tradition where you eat a half gallon of ice cream to celebrate hiking halfway. I am so excited for this that I already have my flavor picked out. It doesn’t seem like I will have that hard of a time doing it considering how much I love ice cream and how many calories I usually eat per day on the trail. We will see.

The first two miles we very flat, but super rocky. I stopped at an Overlook called High Rock that is actually a hang gliding platform. It was all spray painted, but I thought it made for a cool picture.

After that I met up with Flamingo at PenMar park where we charged our phones and dried out all of our wet stuff in the sun. We hung out there for about two hours. A local hiker named “Soggy” who was walking his dog in the park came and talked to us for a while. He offered us a ride into town but we didn’t need it, he ended up giving one to two other hikers. He said he comes to the park regularly to see if he can help out hikers by giving them a ride to town.

At the park we also ran into a little kids camp. There were about fifteen kids in a group that came to the pavilion Flamingo and I were sitting at. They asked to pet Soggy’s dog and while he was talking to them, he casually mentioned that Flamingo and I hiked here from Georgia. This instantly set the kids off, asking us a million questions. The thing that made me laugh the most is that some of them didn’t understand just how on earth we would get home from Maine. Some of them asked if we would turn around and start walking back to Georgia. It was neat to see the childlike wonder in realizing for the first time that a such a trail exists that walks from one end of America to the other. I can only imagine my first time learning this fact. I’d like to think it was one of disbelief. Spending a significant portion of my childhood in an Appalachain trail state, Pennsylvania, I can’t remember a time I was not aware that the trail existed. All I know is that there was always some assumption in the back of my mind that at some point in my life I would like to walk all the way from Maine to Georgia. Until the past two years I never seriously thought about doing it or what it would take to do so. It made me smile when Flamingo showed the kids his tent that was done drying and explained that it was basically his house. Oh the pure wonder, curiosity, and amusement that came from the kids.

Shortly after leaving the park, we crossed the Mason Dixon line into PA. I will be walking 229 miles through this state. I have been dreading Pennsylvania so much because it is also known as Rocksylvania due to its notorious rocks. Rocks are my worst night mare one the trail because they make my feet hurt ten times more than usual. A conversation I had with my sister and Crunchy about quitting back in Virginia, ended with the conclusion that if there is one thing that will make me quit the trail, it’s the Pennsylvania rocks. I received a text from Fancy Feast last night advising me to skip the northern half of PA if I don’t want to tear up my feet, and enjoy my hiking in new England. I have considered skipping the state of PA, and saving it for the end a million times already. I still have time to do this if I want to, but I really don’t want to have to come back to such an awful section in November. I could use lots of prayers as I get father north in this state. I’m really worried about my feet making it through the rocks. If I don’t skip them, I may plan on taking two zeros or more at the end of the state just to recover. As I’m writing this now, I’m almost wishing I had my hiking boots to use for the last 100 miles of the state. As much as I would hate to wear boots, they might be helpful on the rocks. There are a lot of reasons I don’t wear boots now, but the main one is because if they get wet, they will take days and days to dry out by which time it will be raining again on the AT. Rain/water is second to rocks when it comes to ruining my feet.

Some people say the first half of PA isn’t bad. I think they say this because it is flat. I know there are more rocks to come, but it seems like every step I’ve taken has been on a rock today. There were only about 8 Miles left of hiking after PenMar park and they went by fast. I took two breaks at shelters. At tumbling run shelter I took a really long break and soaked my feet in a beautiful ice cold stream for 15 minutes. This shelter was amazingly nice, but Flamingo and I decided to hike on to a view called chimney rocks. The climb up to the view was 900 feet over 1.6 miles. It felt hard because we have been so spoiled with very flat terrain in Maryland. Also it was very humid and I had to carry all my water for the night to the top of the mountain. My pack was really hurting my back again today. I’m not sure why it seems so heavy all of a sudden, but I might have Flamingo help me do a shakedown soon and send some things home. The amount of stress my back has been under the past few days is not okay to be walking hundreds of miles under. A shakedown is a term for removing items from your pack to lose weight on it. My pack weight has slowly creeped up to above 40 pounds with food and water since Georgia. I weigh 130 pounds so this is a significant percent of my body weight. Having a friend who knows my hiking style help me with a shakedown, will be nice. A fresh set of eyes on my pack items can help me better reason if I really need to be carrying something or not.

Today my feet felt great. It was such a short day and I took so many breaks, it’s almost like they never had time to hurt bad. The cold foot soak felt very healing at the end of the day. Tomorrow we have eighteen miles planned so hopefully they hold up well then too!

Happy Trails!

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